Mexico joins giants such as the United States and China , although in a more limited way, in exploring the Moon through the second phase of its COLMENA mission.
As agreed in December 2021, Mexico joined the proceedings of the Artemisa program of the United States and NASA through a pact that will allow the Latin American country to participate in the mission that seeks to return humans to the Moon . The Mexican government confirmed COLMENA and COLMENA 2 , the missions with which it seeks to contribute to the efforts to return to the star with the intention of studying it.
However, López Obrador ‘s management will not send people to the Earth’s satellite but will use artificial intelligence to command a fleet of mini robots “as functional as a human being” that will travel to the celestial body with the intention of exploring the surface . moon and collect useful scientific samples on it. After the first phase of the project is launched, the second phase is expected to be deployed during the second half of 2022.
“This second mission will have more interesting and novel robots, which will develop the resources for humans in different areas. The idea is to have generic robots capable of transporting, locating, and surviving. They will be an instrument to detect minerals but also to measure regolith fields and electric fields ” , mentioned Gustavo Medina , director of the Space Instrumentation Laboratory (LINX), to Milenio.
What does the COLMENA 2 mission in Mexico consist of?
As Dr. Gustavo Medina Tanco , head of LINX at the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) , mentioned in February, the mission is made up of 5 small robots weighing less than 60 grams and 12 centimeters in diameter each. The reason behind the name is because the AI programs the machines to act collaboratively as if they were bees in a hive.
These specimens will go to the Moon in a container aboard the Peregrine spacecraft of the American company Astrobotic, which will act as a catapult to launch them after landing on the moon. Said container will also be the UNAM communications center and the total weight of all these devices is less than 608 grams: the equivalent of three smartphones according to Medina Tanco .
After being placed on the ground, the robots will have their electronics less than two centimeters from the surface, so they will begin to study the regolith – a layer of dust and rock that covers the Moon – using their sensors and emission systems at different frequencies. Unlike the robots of the first mission, those of COLMENA 2 will be able to adapt to the night and will have basic capabilities for prospecting and mining.
Artificial intelligence to explore the Moon
In addition to the mini robots in charge of studying the lunar surface, UNAM is also preparing the development of Nanoswai , an AI-controlled satellite that will replace nanoconnect2 and was launched last year from India . Using this device, measurements of space weather can be made by calculating the permanent effects produced by the activity of the sun and the particles that are released from space.
In addition, images can also be captured using the cameras that the device carries with the possibility of making decisions on their own judgment to order and execute a list of commands. Thus, you will be able to decide “how to implement them to the best of your abilities without running the risk of going bankrupt” due to the properties of the space.
“The mission is that we can develop a tool so that Mexico can have its own ball in the international market with research work that has a vision to support technology and science over long periods ,” Medina said in the interview.