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  • Over the past 60 years, scientists have gotten to know the lunar surface in incredible detail.

  • But how about what’s underneath the surface? Hidden beneath the moon’s layers of dusty

  • regolith are lava tubes. These subterranean spaces offer scientists hope that we could

  • one day use them for building lunar colonies, but theyve never been explored before….at

  • least not yet. That’s where Asagumo comes in.

  • -Asagumo is the first walking rover that will be sent to the moon in the next year.

  • -Asagumo is the latest rover from Spacebit, a space robotics company based in the United

  • Kingdom. Its set to launch onboard the UK’s first mission to the moon and will be the

  • first rover ever sent to explore the lunar lava tubes.

  • -It's small. It weighs just 1.5 kilos and its main uniqueness is it uses legs instead

  • of wheels. -Weve used massive wheeledbots as our

  • means of exploration for years. So why is it time to move into a design with legs?

  • -We really believe that legs would provide Asagumo a possibility

  • to travel through rough terrain.

  • Lava tubes will present a much more rugged landscape

  • than the moon's exterior.

  • -Basically, a lava tube is just a long cave

  • made by lava a long time ago. On Earth we can find lava tubes as well. We really hope

  • that lava tubes could be used as a really nice place for a sustainable human lunar base.

  • This lava cave should protect from temperature, from radiation, from small meteorites, and

  • other potential things that can harm humans. -Because no one has had a chance to explore

  • these lava tubes yet, there are still many unknowns. But we think theyre there because

  • of the steep pits or skylights weve spotted on the moon’s surface.

  • Asagumo will be tasked with identifying whether any of these suspected caves could be a suitable

  • future home for humans. But as Asagumo prepares to take one giant step for robotkind, you

  • might be wondering: how will its design help meet this ambitious goal?

  • -The main goal is to walk for 10 meters.

  • And during that walk, we will gather telemetry and a lot of data.

  • -But there are so many variables when tackling a design

  • that involves so many moving parts. (Literally).

  • -Legs consume a lot of power. You have to have really fancy algorithms that are responsible for stabilization.

  • So the legs in Asagumo have three degrees

  • of freedom, and it means that each leg has three motors. So in general, everything makes

  • the mission really complicated.

  • -But one of the ways the Spacebit team has

  • helped alleviate some of these issues is by having Asagumo walk using a specific static

  • gait, or walking style, that it can adjust depending on the

  • kind of environment it’s in.

  • -It moves one leg at a time and at any given point in time, the robot

  • can just stop moving any legs and it will stand still. The main disadvantage of this

  • type of gait is that it's really slow. And the main benefit is that it's really stable.

  • Even though it’s tiny, the rover still packs a punch. Asagumo has an onboard computer,

  • Lidar system, radiation and temperature sensors, multi-spectral camera, memory card, Wi-Fi

  • link, and a single 4 Watt solar panel.

  • Also, in case I forgot to mention, the team outfitted Asagumo

  • with some artificial intelligence to make it semi-autonomous.

  • -Semi autonomous means that it has some degree of autonomy but it's

  • not able to plan the full mission by itself.

  • So when we are talking about fully autonomous

  • we are talking about achieving certain goals.

  • For example, we can sayHey, walk there.”

  • -While all of this soundsand possibly lookslike science fiction,

  • this is just the beginning.

  • -The first mission will be a...technical demo.

  • And after that, we hope that we will be able to send up to four Asagumos in one mission.

  • And we hope that in five or 10 years, the moon will be inhabited by a lot of small Asagumos.

  • -In addition to being a first for the UK, this mission could be a game changer

  • for establishing lunar colonies on the moon.

  • I know when this launch comes around,

  • I’ll be keeping an eye out for all of the big discoveries made by this little bot.

  • Did you know that the moon is just about 30 Earths away from us?

  • So close, yet so far away.

  • Be sure to subscribe to Seeker for all your lunar updates

  • and thanks so much for watching!

  • I’ll see you next time.

Over the past 60 years, scientists have gotten to know the lunar surface in incredible detail.

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A1 lava moon lunar rover mission autonomous

Meet the First Spider-Like Robot to Explore Lava Caves on the Moon

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    Summer posted on 2021/09/21
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