The two composite sides of the rover's battery pack will interlock, using teeth on the upper portion to latch into openings in the base. This will clamp the lithium ion cells from A123 into position to provide the 273 W-hr capacity the rover will use when it passes through shadow (during flight to the Moon or on the surface) or when it needs a supplement to the power from its solar panels. The composite battery pack parts created earlier were this week robotically shaped to create the interlock structure.
March 14, 2010 - by Expanded payload opportunities now available
Astrobotic Technology today announced that it has vastly increased the amount of payload that it can deliver to the Moon for researchers and marketers, as part of its maiden expedition in 2012 to win the Google Lunar X Prize. The company will be able to carry 240 pounds (109 kg) to the lunar surface for space agency technologists, academic researchers and marketers. The company previously had offered only 12 pounds of payload to third parties.
March 13, 2010 - by Composite battery pack pulled from mold
The rover will operate with a 273 W-hr battery pack to provide peak power as well as power when the rover's solar array is oriented away from the Sun. The pack is comprised of A123 lithium ion cells, which will be attached to one of the interior I-beams anchoring the radiator to the chassis. After designing and machining molds, the team laid up carbon composite materials over the molds this week to test production of the battery pack holder. In the photos, the cells are about the diameter of a U.S. quarter.
March 11, 2010 - by Rover prototype readied for photography session
The third prototype rover from the Astrobotic Technology team recently gained a mock camera and antenna head, making it nearly complete and ready for high-end photography. Yesterday it was posed in front of a green screen so that it can later be combined via Photoshop in combination with actual Apollo surface imagery and a rendering of the new design for the Astrobotic spacecraft / lander.
March 3, 2010 - by Parts to battle lunar heat take shape
The overriding technical challenge of operating a rover near the Moon's equator is the intense, prolonged heat produced by solar radiation and the hot regolith over which the rover travels. All powered equipment inside the robot generates its own heat as well, which must be routed to the radiator for release into space. In the photo below, the team has a key composite part sealed in vacuum to achieve better bonding of the layers. This part, the motor strap, connects the heat-generating 28v brushless motor to other high-conductivity composite straps leading up to the radiator.
March 1, 2010 - by Team adds mock head to prototype robot
The third prototype lunar robot developed by the Astrobotic team has been crowned by a mock camera/antenna head, completing its overall look. The unit was robotically machined to perfect the team's skills in creating the foam molds over which carbon fiber will be laid up to build the actual camera and antenna housings. The horizontal section will house two wide-field cameras with a telephoto zoom between them. The white top of this unit is a radiator to regulate internal temperatures. The dome will house an S-band "evolved" antenna.
February 28, 2010 - by Battery pack begins fabrication
The Astrobotic rover will carry a battery pack (273 Whr) to ensure power during the high-activity landing and also for the brief periods during roving when the solar panels won't be fully oriented toward the Sun. The team is fabricating a battery pack that straps the lithium ion cells to a main I-beam, which connects to the radiator to disperse heat. This image shows the top piece of an aluminum mold for the battery pack over which a carbon-fiber structure will be built up.
February 23, 2010 - by Tiny IMU begins Astrobotic testing
The Astrobotic team has initiated testing of an experimental inertial measurement unit (IMU) loaned from Intel Labs. (IMUs measure a spacecraft's velocity, orientation and gravitational forces.) The tiny device provides six degree of freedom orientation data, utilizing a bluetooth wireless connection to a host computer. It contains three accelerometers, three gyroscopes, three magnetometers, and a microprocessor. The 9.8 gram IMU runs for six hours on a single charge.
February 19, 2010 - by Night survival test succeeds with Intel processor
For the Astrobotic rover to survive hibernation during the lunar night's cryogenic cold, the team must find commercial components that perform to extremes far beyond their published spec sheets. This week an Asus netbook entered the cryo-freezer to see if its Intel Atom processor would bounce back from the ordeal. (See photos below)
February 18, 2010 - by New NASA budget to create faster space careers
NASA’s top education official has noted an important upside to the agency’s revolutionary new budget. Because the new plan fosters entrepreneurial exploration projects, young professionals at these new space companies will take leadership roles far earlier in their careers than they would at old-line aerospace companies. Dr. Joyce Winterton, the agency’s assistant administrator for education, made the comment yesterday at a meeting of the education and public outreach advisory committee of the NASA Advisory Council attended by Astrobotic Technology.