This tiny rover will test how well small mobile robots can survive on the Moon

<em>An artistic rendering of Carnegie Mellon’s rover next to the Peregrine lander</em>

When Pennsylvania-based aerospace company Astrobotic launches its lander to the Moon within the next couple of years, a four-wheeled robot no bigger than a toaster will be along for the ride. The robotic rover, built by Carnegie Mellon University, will help test just how small rovers can get and still survive on the Moon’s surface.

Last week, NASA awarded Astrobotic a contract of $79.5 million to carry up to 14 NASA-sponsored payloads on its lander, named Peregrine. Along with those, the lander will carry another 14 from other commercial companies, research organizations, and space agencies. That’s a total of 28 payloads meant to fit on a lander that’s just a little over 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

There’s not a lot of room on the...

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