The University of Alabama team Astrobotics in collaboration with Shelton State Community College received the highest award, the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence, during NASA's 2014 Robotic Mining Competition awards ceremony inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. More than 35 teams from colleges and universities around the U.S. designed and built remote-controlled robots for the mining competition.
The competition is a NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate project designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design. Teams use their remote-controlled robotics to maneuver and dig in a supersized sandbox filled with a crushed material that has characteristics similar to Martian soil. The objective of the challenge is to see which team’s robot can collect and move the most regolith within a specified amount of time. The competition includes on-site mining, writing a systems engineering paper, performing outreach projects for K-12 students, slide presentation and demonstrations, and team spirit. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/nasarmc. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett