. Moon News .

UA Lunar-Mining Team Wins National Contest
by Staff Writers
Tuscaloosa AL (SPX) May 31, 2012

illustration only

In what's become a common theme in the past year, a team of University of Alabama students won a national championship. The latest championship came not on an athletic field, rather on a simulated lunar surface navigated by robots.

Alabama Lunabotics, a team of students from The University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College, won the top prize in the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The week-long contest included more than 50 teams from universities around the world.

The team was challenged with designing and building an autonomous, or remote controlled, excavator called a lunabot. The robot was tasked with collecting and scooping a minimum of 10 kilograms of a lunar-like material within 10 minutes. Design challenges include the abrasive characteristics of the material, the weight and size limitations of the lunabot and the ability to control the lunabot remotely.

On-site, the judging consisted of the robot's weight, how much material it excavated and deposited along with the amount of bandwidth used to communicate to the robot. The team was also judged on its systems engineering paper, community outreach, a presentation, team spirit and the multidisciplinary level of the team.

On May 26, the last day of the contest, NASA officials announced Alabama Lunabotics notched the most points in the competition, winning the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence. The team also won first place for its presentation and demonstration, first place for team spirit and second place in the mining portion of the competition.

In all, Alabama Lunabotics won $8,000 to use for next year's competition, and NASA will pay for this year's team and faculty adviser to participate at one of NASA's remote research and technology tests. They also received an invitation to watch a spacecraft launch at Kennedy Space Center as guests of NASA.

The group was led by experienced students marking their second or third year on the team. In 2010, the first year NASA held the competition, Alabama Lunabotics placed sixth, and, in 2011, the team placed fourth, said Dr. Kenneth Ricks, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the team's faculty adviser.

"The students on this UA team are very talented engineers with competition experience," Ricks said. "That experience of being at the competition before is very valuable, so they knew what had to be done to be competitive."

Ricks said the lunabot designed by the team was strong, lightweight and versatile, a combination many teams found hard to master.

"The UA robot is solid in both its electronics and controls as well as its mechanical design," he said. "This overall balance between electrical and mechanical aspects of the project is difficult to achieve for many teams."

Adam Melton, a member of the team from Hoover, said the team got a lot of points for having a semi-autonomous robot, meaning the lunabot navigated the terrain on its own after being told where to go, and the goal next year will be to make the lunabot fully autonomous.

The competition taught team members systems engineering, or the ability to break up a complicated task or project into smaller pieces so it can be better managed.

"We all understood systems engineering much better," he said.

Melton said the win was possible because every team member performed their task well.

The team consists of:

+ Justin Baker, an electrical engineering sophomore at Shelton State from Tuscaloosa

+ Jessica Colburn, a public relations junior from Hoover

+ Justin Headley, an electrical engineering graduate student from Cropwell

+ Adam Melton, an electrical engineering sophomore from Hoover

+ Dalen Mullenix, an electrical engineering freshman at Shelton State from Gordo

+ Andrew Price, an electrical engineering graduate student from Birmingham

+ Logan Ream, a mechanical engineering senior from Dunwoody, Ga.

+ David Sandel, an electrical engineering graduate student from Dothan

+ Mitchell Spryn, an electrical engineering sophomore from Williamsburg, Va.

+ Stephanie Troy, a geology senior from Tuscaloosa

+ Jason Watts, an electrical engineering graduate student from Northport

+ Matt Westberry, a mechanical engineering graduate student from Dothan

The team received funding from the Alabama Space Grant Consortium, the UA Student Government Association and numerous other sponsors providing in-kind donations including JOY Mining Machinery, SolidWorks, Walter Energy, Zoe's Kitchen, B and B Sports, AAR and IECS Inc.

Related Links
University of Alabama
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

NASA Lunar Spacecraft Complete Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule
Pasadena CA (SPX) May 30, 2012
A NASA mission to study the moon from crust to core has completed its prime mission earlier than expected. The team of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, with twin probes named Ebb and Flow, is now preparing for extended science operations starting Aug. 30 and continuing through Dec. 3, 2012. The GRAIL mission has gathered unprecedented detail about the intern ... read more

Mars missions may learn from meteor Down Under

Wind may have driven avalanches on Martian dunes

On The Hunt For Light-Toned Veins Of Gypsum

Waking Up with the Sun's Rays

Enceladus Plume is a New Kind of Plasma Laboratory

Cassini Spots Tiny Moon, Begins to Tilt Orbit

Cassini, Saturn Moon Photographer

Cassini to Probe Enceladus Gravity, Take Pictures

Beyond Pluto And Exploring the Kuiper Belt

Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth

Herschel images extrasolar analogue of the Kuiper Belt

NASA Lunar Spacecraft Complete Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule

UA Lunar-Mining Team Wins National Contest

NASA Offers Guidelines To Protect Historic Sites On The Moon

Neil Armstrong gives rare interview - to accountant

Wyss Institute develops nanodevice manufacturing strategy using DNA 'building blocks'

Coatings with nanoparticles that interact with sunlight and eliminate contaminants are developed

First direct observation of oriented attachment in nanocrystal growth

Stunning image of smallest possible 5 rings

Sierra Nevada Announces the Completion of Four Dream Chaser Milestones FOR NASA

J-2X Engine Continues to Set Standards

Liquid Oxygen Piston Pump Ready for Reusable Space Flight

Pictures show N. Korea rocket launch upgrade

Why is China sending a woman into space?

Tiangong 1 Ready To Meet Shenzhou 9

China launches telecommunication satellite

Sri Lanka plans to launch its first satellite in 2015

Capillarity in Space - Then and Now, 1962-2012

Dragon on board

SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Dragon on Historic Mission

SpaceX Dragon Transports Student Experiments to Space Station

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement