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Germany's CESAR crowned king of rovers in ESA’s Robotics Challenge

[ESA Press Release - 04.11.2008]
A robot rover designed by a Bremen university team has won an ESA contest to retrieve soil samples from a lunar-style terrestrial crater. Eight student teams fielded rovers during the event, their progress monitored by an advanced 3-D viewer already flight-tested in space and planned for eventual deployment on the Moon.

Craters surrounding the Moon's poles are a top 21st Century science target. Lunar researchers believe these craters may be 'cold traps', preserving ancient water ice deposits. Such ice would not only be an invaluable time capsule, it would also support manned lunar settlements. But the only way to verify the ice is there is to go fetch it, which is where rovers come in.

ESA's Lunar Robotics Challenge: A tough task for the student teams

Surrey University SELENE rover. Credits: The University of Surrey Lunar Rover Team

[ESA Press Release - 27.10.2008]
The Teide volcanic peak on the island of Tenerife acted as a mock-up of the Moon landscape last week, with eight European student teams tuning, testing and driving their lunar rovers in preparation for a robotics competition that took place during the dark nights of last weekend.

Roving on the Moon is not easy. Lunar robotic explorers have to travel in a vacuum, over rough and steep terrain covered by crust and dust. The Sun heats the rovers up to 110°C and, when driving into a shadow, the temperature can drop to -100°C, or almost -200°C in the polar regions. The rovers have to be remote-controlled or able to steer themselves autonomously, making manoeuvres and scientific research very difficult.

Eight teams taking up ESA’s Lunar Robotics Challenge

Artist impression of Moonbase. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 02.07.2008]
As interest in exploration of the Moon soars among the world’s space agencies, ESA, through it's General Studies Programme, has challenged university students to develop a robotic vehicle that is capable of working in difficult terrain, comparable to that found at the lunar poles. Eight university teams have been selected to proceed to the design stage of ESA’s Lunar Robotics Challenge.

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