In a recent press release, NASA announced the launch of The Lunabotics Junior Contest for K-12 and home-schooled students in the U.S. The contest seeks ‘young engineers’ to help design a robot capable of digging into the lunar surface near the Moon’s South Pole.

“The competition, which is a collaboration between NASA and Future Engineers, asks students to design a robot that digs and moves lunar soil, called regolith, from an area of the lunar South Pole to a holding container near where Artemis astronauts may explore in the future,” NASA said in a press release.

According to a statement issued Mike Kincaid, NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of STEM Engagement, “Extracting resources in deep space will require innovation and creativity, and students are some of the most creative thinkers.” He said he looks forward to the designs as a new generation always “brings new perspectives, inventive ideas, and a sense of optimism to the challenges NASA puts in front of them.”

While students don’t have to build a robot, they are asked to “envision” how the robot, which is not supposed to be larger than 3.5 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, will scoop/dig and move the lunar regolith, and how the design of the robot will address the challenge of lunar dust that can “stick” to surfaces when lunar regolith is moved.

Entries will be split into two categories – grades K-5 and grades 6-12. The winner from each category will be announced March 29, 2022,

To enter the contest, students must submit entries with an image of their robot design and a written summary explaining how the design is intended to operate by January 25, 2022, the release added.

NASA is preparing to send astronauts to the lunar South Poll, possibly as early as 2024. Humans last walked on the Moon in December 1972 with NASA’s Apollo program.

From : pk.mashable.com

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