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Get set for Mars base camp

FOX News

In 2028, a space station could be circling Mars, if a new concept comes to fruition. As a prelude to human expeditions to the planet's surface, researchers aboard the proposed orbiting lab would aim to answer key questions about the complex world. The six-person Mars Base Camp is led by researchers at aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, who unveiled the concept last year and fleshed out more details of the project here at the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), held March 21-25 in The Woodlands, Texas. The Mars Base Camp is designed to vastly amplify the collection of imagery and scientific data from multiple sites on the planet over a full year of crewed occupation. This work could help identify the best spots for humans to explore on the Martian surface, Lockheed Martin representatives have said.


Meet NASA’s Mars robot

FOX News

NASA's Space Robotics Challenge awarded Northeastern University with a $2-million Valkyrie Robonaut 5 (R5) robot, which is now undergoing tests in a Massachusetts warehouse to prepare for the finalist round this June in a virtual simulation of a red-planet landing. The robot arrived at Northeastern in 2015 as part of a proposal that Engineering Professor Taskin Padir sent to NASA for the Space Robotics Challenge software testing, reports Tech Crunch. "They've done all of the hardware and we're developing these high-level capabilities so Valkyrie does more than just move limbs," Northeastern PhD student, Murphy Wonsick told Tech Crunch. "She can autonomously make decisions, move around, and accomplish tasks." Researchers moved the R5 to "NERVE (New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation) Center, a large warehouse space operated by UMass Lowell that houses large obstacle courses designed to put test robots and drones through their paces," just outside of Boston.


Build a space robot for NASA

FOX News

Think you have what it takes to build a robot astronaut? NASA could use your help. The space agency on Tuesday opened registration for a new competition aimed at developing "the capabilities of humanoid robots to help astronauts on the journey to Mars." Teams competing in the Space Robots Challenge must program a virtual robot, modeled after NASA's Robonaut 5 (R5), to complete a series of complex tasks in a simulated Mars environment. Winners will take home 1 million. The competition will be held in a virtual environment, and each team's R5 will be challenged to resolve the aftermath of a dust storm that has damaged a Martian habitat.


SPACE INVADERS NASA robots could pave way for human trip to Mars

FOX News

Four sister robots built by NASA could be pioneers in the colonization of Mars, part of an advance construction team that sets up a habitat for more fragile human explorers. But first they're finding new homes on Earth and engineers to hone their skills. The space agency has kept one Valkyrie robot at its birthplace, the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It has loaned three others to universities in Massachusetts and Scotland so professors and students can tinker with the 6-foot-tall, 300-pound humanoids and make them more autonomous. One of the robots, nicknamed Val, still hasn't quite harmonized its 28 torque-controlled joints and nearly 200 sensors after arriving at a robotics center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Engineering students let the electricity-powered robot down from a harness and tried to let it walk, only to watch as Val's legs awkwardly lurched and locked into a ballet pose.