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COLDArm

Cold Operable Lunar Deployable Arm
20/04/2021

The future is space. You can notice it observing the renewed enthusiasm for the exploration of Mars with the rover Perseverance, just like in the various proclamations of those who already see real colonists on the Moon in the near future, in the coming years. Thinking about a real life on the Moon means to support the research and to develop the new technologies able to answers effectively to real problems.

For example: on the Moon it will be necessary to bring material and, consequently, to move it. The handling of loads will be more complex for humans, which is why it is already necessary to design robots that can solve the simple and complex problems that the astronauts will have to face.

COLDArm (Cold Operable Lunar Deployable Arm), a project by Motiv, in collaboration with NASA, arises from similar and more complex considerations. What makes unique this robotic "arm" is that it will operate in extremely cold environments - as low as -279 degrees Fahrenheit. COLDArm functions without the heating or insulation typically used on space arms.

Under ordinary circumstances, robotics cannot operate at temperatures below -67 degrees Fahrenheit before requiring a substantial amount of energy. The COLDArm was designed to reduce the overall power needed for a rover or lander’s operations. This allows robots equipped with this special arm to extend missions and reduce power consumption. How? This is the big question.

Tom McCarthy, the VP of business development at Motiv Space Systems, said: “The emergence of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) lander program provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate the technology in a relevant environment. The COLDArm also demonstrates applicability in other solar system destinations. (...) COLDArm is a collection of unique material developments. In particular, the gearing is made from a material known as bulk metallic glass. This crystalline metal displays unique durability properties across large thermal ranges, including strength and wear.

A sentence that makes immediately understandable how the challenge for the future is intimately connected to the development of BMG instruments, of any type and for any purpose.

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