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Moon Roundup: Expertise All Around

This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE...

An Astrobotic moon cave robot exploring a mine. [Video link; image at 2:26.]

Serious expertise all around, as Penn State Lunar Lion   signed a new contract with NASA, Astrobotic  talked to NASA about their moon cave plans, Moon Express  added some top scientists and ARCA  tested Mars mission technology...

New NASA Ground

Penn State Lunar Lion   penned a major new agreement with NASA!

"[Space Act Agreements] are typically signed between NASA and private organizations such as SpaceX, so as a university, Penn State is breaking significant ground by collaborating with the space agency in this manner." -StateCollege.com

Penn State image of a student with the Lunar Lion 3D model.

The groundbreaking contract will provide Penn State with rocket thruster technology---specifically, a 'pencil thruster' that will help the team's craft 'hop' from place to place on the Moon (therefore fulfilling the 500-meters movement requirement of the Google Lunar XPRIZE)---while giving NASA research data and "new propulsion engine concepts" in return.

Cave Way

Astrobotic ’s CEO, Dr. Red Whitttaker, talked to NASA about why they are going to explore a Moon cave, and the history of the project:

Serious Expertise

Moon Express  added two top scientists to their team---Dr. Paul Spudis and Dr. Jack Burns!

NASA image of Dr. Paul Spudis.

Dr. Spudis will be their Chief Scientist, and Dr. Burns will serve as their Science Advisory Board Chair.

Spudis and Burns are both veterans of the Moon development community, with Spudis having served as the Chief Scientist for pioneering Google Lunar XPRIZE team Odyssey Moon (who eventually merged with team SpaceIL ).

Mars Mission

ARCA  completed a test for the ExoMars Mars mission project!

They put communications equipment to the test for the European Space Agency Mars mission via use of a hot air balloon (as you can see above).

Eventually, ARCA  will be testing parachutes the mission will use to descend to the surface of Mars.

London Calling

All this week, we're at the European Planetary Science Congress in London! (#EPSC2013)

Our own GLXP gal Alex Hall blogged about the benefits the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams could provide to planetary scientists (and to the field in general).

And if you're at the event--swing by and say hi!

Moon Rover Contest

And speaking of conferences, Indus  posted a cool video for their big moon rover contest---which students have just two more days to sign up for:

Challenges in 3D

Plan B  also posted a cool video update:

Where they go hands-on with some 3D printing, assembling a rover wheel; discuss personal challenges with data; and talk more about their ongoing $2,000-value contest!

Battle Angel Hakuto

Hakuto  got the manga/anime treatment:

While also posting a bunch of other great updates to their Google+!

LADEE Launch

And last but definitely not least, NASA’s LADEE mission launched to the Moon!

Penn State Lunar Lion image of LADEE over their campus.

The mission is going to both study the lunar dust and atmosphere conditions, and test a new laser-based system of data communication. Both could be extremely valuable developments for the teams, and their efforts on the Moon!

Honorable Mentions:

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I'll be rounding these up every week, so keep an eye here for the latest developments from the moon race!

And for the full skinny on everything that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos. You can also sign up for the XPRIZE newsletter to get cool PRIZE news in your inbox!

[September 3rd-September 10th, 2013.]

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Lunar Roundup
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