You may never reach the moon, but thanks to a new invention from engineering students at the University of Texas at Austin, you may soon be able to write your name on it.
A 10-student team has designed a moon rover with a robotic arm that can be programmed to sign or even inscribe names and phrases on the moon’s surface, which the team calls “lunar etching.”
Team leader Brianna Caughron told KXAN she got the idea while walking on campus.
“When I was walking back from that class to my apartment in West Campus, I tend to look at the ground when I’m walking, and I saw this piece of cement on the sidewalk where, you know it’s like semi-set and people will start carving stuff in it – like they’re name or the year they’re gonna graduate and stuff like that – I was like, that kinda looks similar to the surface of the moon. It’s very similar. I was like, people love to do this. We can make something that would be able to do this on the moon.”
Your signature on Earth’s only satellite may be priceless, but it won’t be free. The team estimates that a customer would be charged just under $10 for every second it takes the robot arm to complete a signature. On average, customers will be charged anywhere from $500-$600. The rover will also snap a photo so you can show off your moon-signature back on Earth.
Lunar etching technology could be used for other commercial products, from digital and canvas prints, to buttons, journals, apparel, and phone covers.
The team’s project, officially dubbed “Lunar Engraver with Geologic Autonomous Carving Instrument,” has been recognized by the NASA Design Contest, and won a pair of awards under NASA’s Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) annual design competition for the categories of Commercial Cislunar Space Development and Excellence in Commercial Innovation.
“I am so proud of the work my team has done this year to achieve this great honor,” Caughron told The University of Texas at Austin. “I want to thank them and our faculty advisor for all the effort they have put into our project that helped us be successful. I never imagined an idea I had walking back to my apartment after class last fall could turn into something so rewarding and meaningful.”
Support People on the Moon
The TryEngineering lesson plan Biomimicry in Engineering teaches the concept of Biomimicry. Students learn how engineers have incorporated structures and methods from the living world in products and solutions for all industries. They then work in teams to develop a structure or system based on an example in nature that would help people living on the moon. Download this lesson plan today!