LB’s Space Exploration Program Enters NASA’s Lunabotics Mining Competition

Declan O'Hara and team member Courtnee Britton discuss tactical ways to ensure the rover is powered appropriately before the mock prototype is built. (Photo by Mckenna Christmas)

Deciding to pursue a high-tech project that requires an entire team of coordinated people is ambitious. This idea was the seed of the LBCC’s Space Exploration Program rover project.

The idea, as well as the club, blossomed into a fully functioning multi-level project with over 20 students and faculty involved. The project started in early September when Executive Director Matthew Lucas posed NASA’s Lunabotics Mining Competition to the group of students, in which the involved schools are to design, build, and operate a lunar rover whose goal is to collect lunar ice in a simulated environment. Each Saturday at 10 am in IA 225 the group enjoys breakfast together and then proceeds to collaborate on the design of a functional lunar rover.

The club recognized what was necessary in order to complete the project and divided up into sub-groups including the electrical team, auxiliary team, wheel team, main rover design, and an outreach group in order to maximize productivity. Declan O’Hara has been the electrical team lead since joining the club in September. O’Hara will potentially transfer over to OSU to continue his education and graduate with a bachelor’s in engineering.

The rover has five minutes to prepare and five minutes to exit the course. Its purpose is to cross into the mining zone of the competition field, dig down, and start harvesting the gravel simulating the frozen ice chunks. It must then sift it from the topsoil, and then bring it back to the collection bin and offload it all within 15 minutes. It then has to dig through 30 cm of topsoil as well as BP1, with 15 cm of gravel below.

“Really, it’s not a whole lot of time, but I’m super stoked to be involved and see what we can do,” said O’Hara.

O’Hara and his team are in charge of designing the electrical system that provides power from a Makita battery. The students work to ensure that the power requirements of all motors and radar systems are going to be handled by the batteries. Once the circuit board is complete, the Space Exploration Program will build a mock prototype to set up all of the motors and electronics, which will allow the software team to start playing around to get input back from the motors and sensors in about 2 weeks.

LBCC’s Space Exploration Program’s biggest strength is all of their fresh talent and dedicated minds. Predicted to be completed in May of 2020, the Space Exploration club is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. Since 2011, the co-curricular STEM related group shaped itself to become an ambitious team of individuals with different intellectual strengths, capable of building off of each other to create a functional lunar rover.

Story by Mckenna Christmas

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