Motorsport has infiltrated practically every corner of this planet, and has been around for as long as there have been motors. Hell, racing has been around far longer than cars have been, and it would make sense that racing will continue on into the future after humans expand outward onto the Moon or Mars or Europa or whatever. I didn’t really think I’d see racing on the moon just yet, but a STEM group called Moon Mark will be delivering a pair of race cars to the surface of the moon next year to duke it out wheel to wheel.
OK, so Moon Mark’s racers won’t look anything like the old LRV shown at the top of the page. Nor will these racers be big enough for humans to ride on. Each race car can weigh no more than 11 pounds. The group is looking for submissions from teams of up to six students (grades 9-12) to design these new rovers. The teams won’t need to build the rovers, just design them, and the winners will receive a $1,500 donation to the charity of their choice.
The design of these moon race cars is basically unrestricted, though 1.6 kilograms of the maximum 5 are already spoken for. The little racers will receive a standardised battery, power module, solar panel, radio and antenna, Wi-Fi module, and a computer to run the rover. These components were chosen for the project because of their ability to withstand the extreme temperatures of the surface of the moon.
Moon Mark is quick to reinforce that the purpose of this project is to go fast. With the electric wheel-driven propulsion already taken care of, the students need to factor in a steering mechanism, an onboard camera, suspension, and bodywork for the rover. With appreciably thinner air than earth, and far less gravity, perhaps aerodynamics isn’t quite as important. Then again, racing is all about finding the smallest advantage over your rivals.
The race course will be plotted out in an area of the moon near Vallis Schröteri.
Moon Mark will choose designs from the entries submitted with five different categories of judgement. Judges will determine the space-worthiness of each craft, how the team worked together virtually while on coronavirus-induced lockdown, how the rover solves problems in an innovative way, creativity in the design’s ability to engage others, and the team’s ability to develop an entrepreneurial solution.
I know that all of you with children are probably pulling your hair out trying to maintain control of your household as they stay home from school and go wild with boredom. Maybe Moon Mark has at least a partial solution to your problem with this competition. Your children can engage themselves academically in a team-building scenario and possibly see their creation go to freakin’ space! Sign up now, the first design is due on June 5th.
Now, as a total racing fanatic, I’ll watch just about anything go head to head. I’d love to see these two battle each other on a Lunar race track. This is where we start, and by 2035 Formula E will be racing exclusively on the moon, my man! Hell yeah, Science!