Brian Feuerman reaches Semi-Finals in Lunar Robot Challenge!


The Academy of the Redwoods (AR) and the Fortuna Union High School District are proud to announce that 11th grader Brian Feuerman of Hydesville was one of ten high school finalists in the nation in the Lunabotics Junior Contest put on by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and the Office of STEM Engagement.

Students were tasked with designing a robot that can collect and transport regolith (a great Scrabble word meaning “lunar soil”) from various locations in the lunar South Pole to a holding container near the future Artemis Moon base. One challenge the students had to consider was the management of lunar dust, which is much sharper and, diabolically, positively charged and therefore much clingier than dust on earth. NASA has been working hard to come up with mitigation solutions for lunar dust as they prepare to return to the Moon with the Artemis program.

From NASA, “The Artemis Program will establish long term lunar science and exploration capabilities that will serve as a springboard for future explorations of Mars. Lunar regolith is instrumental in this development and could be used to create lunar concrete, reducing the amount and cost of materials that need to be transported from Earth.”

Out of 2300 entries, Feuerman’s design, The Spider, was one of 10 semifinalists in the Grade 6 through 12 category. Feuerman wrote the following about his concept: “My design uses legs instead of wheels to minimize dust kick-up. The legs bend to adjust the ride height. To ensure the legs don’t sink into the regolith, the pressure exerted by the bottoms of the legs should not exceed one bar. This is my estimation of the amount of pressure one of Neil Armstrong’s boots exerted on the regolith. If it worked for him, it would work for this design. The robot includes a conveyor belt to transport the regolith to the container. This is much faster and more robust than a longer scooping arm to transfer the regolith directly to the chamber. I believe it would be more energy-efficient, too. Most of it would be covered in a conductive fabric to dissipate any charge the dust would’ve accumulated. It includes a rechargeable battery and a solar cell atop a motor to create ultrasonic vibrations and eject the dust.
People ask, ‘why reinvent the wheel?’ I say, ‘because the wheel kicks up a lot of lunar dust.'”

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