Winners of the Lunar Robotics Design ContestS. Himmelstein | April 07, 2022
NASA has selected the winning designs submitted to its Lunabotics Junior Contest, a national competition for K-12 students featuring the agency’s Artemis missions. Interested aspiring engineers were tasked with designing a robot that can dig and move lunar soil, or regolith, from one area of the lunar South Pole to a holding container near where Artemis mission astronauts may explore the Moon in the future.
Tools for manipulating such regolith will be crucial for tapping lunar metal and mineral resources, harvesting water and erecting a Moon base with lunar concrete. One national winner from each grade division was selected from approximately 2,300 submitted designs.
The top entry in the grades 6-12 division was 15-year-old Shriya Sawant of Cumming, Georgia, for her Regolith Accretion Device (RAD) design. The bucket-wielding autonomous RAD robot is intended to meet the challenges of reduced gravity on the Moon, lunar dust contamination and navigating rough terrain.
A solar-powered robot sporting spiked wheels earned nine-year-old Lucia Grisanti from Toms River, New Jersey, the winning prize in the grades K-5 division. Olympus is designed to travel the lunar surface and scoop regolith into a cone-shaped collector to separate large rocks from dust.