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Athlete, a six-limbed habitat-hauler being developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Made of aluminum, this prototype Athlete is eight feet wide and seven feet tall. It gets around using six independently controlled legs equipped with ultra-light wheels. In more-challenging terrain, the wheels can lock in place and function as feet, allowing Athlete to tiptoe through boulder-strewn fields or climb up steep hills. The mission-ready robot, which will be about twice the size of the prototype pictured here and made of steel, should be able to haul a load of up to 15 tons pretty much anywhere it wants to—as long as it obeys a 3mph speed limit.
When multiple Athletes are docked together, the habitat doors can be aligned within a thousandth of an inch, creating a seal tight enough that astronauts can pass from their living quarters to a science laboratory next door in their shirtsleeves.
They will be searching for solutions to a number of scientific puzzles. For example: Did a meteorite really kill off the dinosaurs and, if so, when did it happen? The clues may be on the moon. “A big impact on Earth would have covered the moon in a thin blanket of dust,” Wilcox says. “Because the moon has no plate tectonics, the layers beneath the surface are presumably undisturbed. Using the scoop on Athlete would allow us to look at the layering and get an unambiguous timeline of when those events occurred—like with tree rings.”
With the iconic Space Shuttle nearing retirement, the pressure is on NASA to design a new manned vehicle — one that will deliver us safely to the lunar surface by 2020 before building a lasting lunar base.
Real estate prices may be dropping domestically, but on the Moon they're still climbing. The investment bank UBS released a report concluding that lunar land prices have risen 40 percent since the start of 2007. The costs vary, with some sources claiming the high was $37 per acre in December 2005 and others saying a chunk of land will cost you as little as $56.
... The king of space real estate, Dennis Hope, of the Lunar Embassy USA, claims to have sold 3.5 million parcels on the Moon and other planets.
ex·tra·ter·res·tri·al Audio Help /ˌɛkstrətəˈrɛstriəl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ek-struh-tuh-res-tree-uhl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective 1. outside, or originating outside, the limits of the earth.
–noun 2. an extraterrestrial being: a science fiction novel about extraterrestrials conquering the earth.