Snoopy is set to join the Artemis I crew, and the Peanuts character just might be joined by NASA’s robotic Cold Operable Lunar Deployable ARM (COLDArm) on a future mission. The lunar surface around the Moon’s South Pole is even colder at night than Mars, making it a challenge for our current spacecraft, which utilize energy-burning heaters to keep from freezing.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s solution for a robot to survive the dark of lunar night, a period that spans about 14 Earth days, combines several new technologies to create a robotic arm system capable of operating in temperatures as low as minus 280° Fahrenheit (minus 173° Celsius). It measures 6-foot-6-inch (2-meter) and comes equipped with two cameras for 3D mapping, the same imaging sensor integrated into the 13MP color camera used by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Astronauts could attach small instruments onto the end of the arm, including a 3D-printed titanium scoop for collecting samples.
Going to the Moon, we need to be able to operate during colder temperatures, particularly during lunar night, without the use of heaters. COLDArm would let missions continue working and conducting science even in extreme cryogenic environments,” said Ryan McCormick, project principal investigator.