Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moon exploration robots tested on sand dunes in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka -- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has conducted tests of prototype moon exploration robots here, that were designed by several institutions to become part of Japan's next-generation lunar exploratory equipment.

On March 13, the agency conducted test runs on a total of eight robot prototypes at the Nakatajima sand dunes in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, a vast undulated land area somewhat resembling the moon's surface.

The eight robot prototypes were made by various research institutions, including Tohoku University, the Aichi University of Technology, Osaka University and Tokyu Construction, which are competing in JAXA's Lunar Robotics Challenge for designing robots to explore the moon's surface.

During the experimental run, the agency tested the robots' drivability and collected various data related to their performance.

Seeking to capitalize on their success with the SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer), a lunar orbiter better known by its nickname Kaguya, JAXA is now looking into the development of next-generation moon exploratory equipment.

The Kaguya probe, after successfully orbiting the moon for approximately a year and nine months from September 2007, ended its mission and was crashed onto the lunar surface in June 2009. Read More