SciencePunk

Swedish researchers have enlisted the help of artist Mikael Genberg to design a robot that will one day erect a tiny house on the moon. After landing on the lunar surface in 2012, the autonomous robot will scout for a suitable location and build a small red cottage, in keeping with the Scandinavian style.

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The flatly-named The House on the Moon project aims to be a symbol of what one man can achieve. Students at the Mälardalen University will design, build and program the robot, although Professor Lars Asplund hinted that the final step may be a leap too far:

“We want to teach students who think creatively, work together, use the very latest technology, and dare to set their sights high. The most important thing is not always to reach the goal. If you aim for the stars, at least you’ll reach the treetops or even the moon”

This is a reference to Mikael Genberg’s previous work, which includes the tiny Woodpecker Hotel, set 13m high in the treetops of Vasa Park in Västerås. Genberg is also responsible for the Hotel Otter Inn, which boasts an underwater room.

Artists have been involved with space programs before – Voyager’s some space craft solar panels are said to have been designed with the assistance of origami experts, and last year a Japanese team announced their intention to launch a paper plane from the International Space Station, claiming it could be designed to withstand the intense heat and pressures of re-entry.

Comments

  1. #1 M. Binder
    April 6, 2009

    Great blog. I think kids need to be made aware of these great inventions so that they can be inspired to create fabulous and innovative science fair projects. Thank you for bringing science to the masses through your blog.

  2. #2 Calli Arcale
    April 7, 2009

    Cool story, but . . . Voyager’s solar panels? Voyager didn’t have any solar panels at all. The two Voyager spacecraft are powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). Solar panels are useless in the outer solar system, because sunlight is much dimmer there. You must mean a different spacecraft. Perhaps Magellan, which went to Venus, was solar-powered, and was built mostly from Voyager spares?

  3. #3 Elwood Herring
    April 7, 2009

    Great idea, but if the robot is going to be that big, why not just live in the robot?

  4. #4 Frank the SciencePunk
    April 7, 2009

    @ Calli Arcale – Thanks for the info, of course it seems so obvious in retrospect! The solar-panels-designed-by-origami-experts story has been knocking around for while, and I had trouble finding an authoritative source (obviously). Perhaps it’s just a bit of NASA lore.

  5. #5 origamiwolf
    April 8, 2009

    Regarding the solar panels story: it wasn’t a solar panel, but rather a large foldable antenna on the Japanese HALCA satellite (doi: 10.1109/TAP.2004.831281). The folding method of the satellite was developed by Koryo Miura, and goes by the name of miura-ori:

    http://www.miura-ori.com/English/e-index.html

  6. #6 Brain Hertz
    April 8, 2009

    The solar panels designed in conjunction with origami experts is not just NASA lore, AFIAK. I’m pretty sure that would be the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. I actually saw a presentation on this a few months back.

    I’ll look for a reference on that…

  7. #7 Brain Hertz
    April 8, 2009

    ah, here it is… knew I’d find it:

    http://www.rca-omsi.org/news/gazette_08/2008_05.pdf

    the presentation was by Greg Cernak of JPL. My memory could be faulty here, but I’m pretty sure that the origami thing was discussed.

    It was a really great presentation, by the way.

  8. #8 Brain Hertz
    April 8, 2009

    sorry about making multiple posts, but here is a direct reference:

    http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=935

    The lens would have to somehow fit in this narrow compartment shaft to be launched into space. This is where Dr. Robert Lang entered the picture. The Diffractive Optics Group contacted Dr. Lang and requested a visit. After examining the problem, Lang explored various origami designs that could be applied to the lens.

  9. #9 Frank the SciencePunk
    April 8, 2009

    Thanks Brain Hertz, you are full of win!

  10. #10 Wolf
    April 9, 2009

    The origami-for-space-design thing started earlier on with the Japanese HALCA satellite – it used a origami method (miura-ori) for its antenna (doi:10.1109/TAP.2004.831281). There’s now a company using the same type of folding technique for maps in Japan.

  11. #11 Jerel Whittingham
    April 10, 2009

    Nice piece, fun idea. The comment on ‘withstand{ing} the intense heat and pressures of re-entry’ is a little misleading, as the point is that these are not experienced in the first place by a lower density object with a relatively high surface area to mass ratio; like a well designed paper airplane

    Jerel, Cambridge UK

  12. #12 chris trigg
    November 16, 2010

    you dont need a robot to build moon’s first house. i know away.

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