3D Robotics

3689492254?profile=originalFrom famed venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson:

A quad ‘copter from Chris Anderson, with Go-Pro underbody gimbal and a sensor array for landing that is so very clever in the repurposing of consumer hardware to replace expensive and heavy radar units like they used on Apollo. A great way to test the control algorithms for automated landing. Like Apollo, the landing would occur at lunar daybreak (maximum shadows for surface feature contrast, and a 14 day window of solar flux).

The tech challenge I am working on is how to survive the 14 day lunar night at -150°C. Batteries freeze rather destructively. The only Apollo instruments to survive the night had nuclear batteries (like Curiosity). I am thinking Solar Junction solar cells, Everspin rad-hard/soft-error-immune MRAM, and a super cap or maybe LiIon electrolyte from eSionic which might survive the temp cycling. Or perhaps a Solicore solid electrolyte from ORNL. Has anyone tested the other elements (processor, PCB interconnect) through those extreme temp cycles?

Part of a very fun update tour of Moon Express at NASA Ames today.

It's simulating something similar to this:


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  • Just run a long extension lead around to the other side of the moon and use a solar panel array! ;)

  • I think they will have to use an array of lemons as batteries. They will sustain -150 degree Celsius. At least the next astronauts will have some frozen vegetables and enough vitamine C. It may be healthier than a nuclear power source. Keep the teeth and don't loose hair.... :) :)

  • See, there's a slight problem with suggesting that the world will end on 21/12/2012... which part of the world... and at what time of day? Do we wait for the instant before midnight when the whole world acknowledges that the date is indeed the 21st... or do the various parts of the world suddenly go "poof" when they tick over midnight (which means for me, I have less than 7 hours to live).

    I sense some problems with this whole "end of the world" prediction! ;)

  • oh gimme a break I just said pondered. I didnt say I have new invention or anything like that.

    as far as Sadoway goes; I kinda like the professor, and kept my eye on him for several years now. Other than going corporate with his new invention, (which is what it will probably take, to get it off the ground) he has had good ideas in the past. So am hopeful of his progress.

    But as far as researching batteries goes... Isn't that best left for MIT pre-docs to work on??

    ( at least we can keep some humor going as the end of all things happens in just 2 more days; lol )

  • I think you need to do some research on how batteries work.

    FWIW, I was a TA with Sadoway when I was in grad school in MIT.

  • that wiki also mentions a low temp molten salt battey...

    So instead of just saying no that cant work... why not try ... hmm.. wonder if that might work?


  • Here's the Wikipedia page on molten salt batteries:


  • No, they have to be operated at 700C in order to work. The electrodes are molten metal, and the electrolyte is a molten salt; if they cool down, they solidify and the battery doesn't work any more.

  • yes, indeed they do need to be heated to temperature to get the reaction started. But so does a High Pressure Sodium Light bulb, and they are used everywhere! (just say ignitor circuit)

    But high capacity, high discharge; and they can be stored in a solid state with a full charge for long periods, also made from very cheap(ish) materials (compared to plutonium) :)

    edit: I'm at least happy to see somebody working outside the box; in battery technology that wont break the bank. biggest hurdle for us, is to not block new ideas...

  • Sadoway's batteries use molten metals and salts at 700C; not practical for any application other than stationary batteries.

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