Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

To The Moon - well send in the Avatar - the robots - the game simulation

Since we don't seem to be in any hurry to send humans back to the Moon for real, I have been spending my time in my own dreams of human like robots that can think and are intelligent.
- LRK -

Artificial Life: An Overview [Hardcover]
Christopher G. Langton (Editor)

Product Description
Artificial life, a field that seeks to increase the role of synthesis in the study of biological phenomena, has great potential, both for unlocking the secrets of life and for raising a host of disturbing issues -- scientific and technical as well as philosophical and ethical. This book brings together a series of overview articles that appeared in the first three issues of the groundbreaking journal Artificial Life, along with a new introduction by Christopher Langton, Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Life, founder of the discipline, and Director of the Artificial Life Program at the Santa Fe Institute.


You may have watched the movie AVATAR (2009) and wondered what it would be like to be able to put yourself into an immersion chamber and experience what a synthetic life form would experience.  Could we do the same for sending a NON Human to the Moon, since sending Human Humans seems to be questionable?
- LRK -

 Avatar (2009)
 Opened December 18, 2009 | Runtime:2 hr. 30 min.

AVATAR takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save the alien world he has learned to call home. James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of “Titanic,” first  conceived the film 15 years ago, when the means to realize his vision did not exist yet.  Now, after four years of production, AVATAR, a live action film with a new generation of special effects, delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary technology invented to make the film disappears into the emotion of the characters and the sweep of the story.


It looks like we will have to rely on satellite lunar orbiters to show us the Moon and hopefully at least some rovers on the lunar surface to begin to let us know more about our  nearest neighbor in space. Sending real live, thinking intelligent explorers there seems to be a long way off and I don't have that much time to wait.  I hope our Congress makes up its mind soon as to how we will proceed.  In the mean time I guess we will be at the mercy of simulations.
- LRK -

Do you have what it takes ...

In ‘Moonbase Alpha’, players will step into the role of an exploration team member and will be immersed in a futuristic 3D lunar settlement. Their mission is to restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a nearby meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support equipment. Available resources include an interactive  command center, a lunar rover, mobile robotic repair units and a fully stocked equipment shed.

This 'First Person Explorer' serious game includes both a single player capability and LAN or internet multiplayer gameplay for up to six active players on a team. Selectable maps will be available for specific player numbers (e.g., 2 player map, 4 player map, etc.).  Each of these maps is represented and tracked individually within the game’s leader boards.


A Popular Mechanics review of the program is not too supportive.
- LRK -

Why NASA's New Video Game Completely Misses the Point
August 3, 2010 3:30 PM

There is a scene in last year's first-person shooter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,  that puts you in the pressurized boots of an astronaut. While hitched to the outside of the International Space Station, you're asked by mission control to provide visual confirmation of an ICBM arcing through low Earth orbit. The sequence ends as abruptly as it begins, with the station blown to pieces, and you, the astronaut, sent tumbling into space. It's a bizarre and thrilling minute of doomed gameplay.

If only NASA's own astronaut simulator, Moonbase Alpha, was so brutish and short. Distributed for free online (via the Steam network) and developed in partnership with America's Army, the PC game is set on a lunar outpost in 2025. After a meteor strike disables the expedition's life-support systems, one or more players set out with tools, robots and rovers to get oxygen flowing again. It's a race against the clock—25 minutes, to be precise.
It's also excruciatingly boring, not to mention ill-timed. This past April, after hearing the recommendations of an independent panel on the future of human spaceflight, the Obama administration pulled the plug on a new manned mission to the moon. "We've been there before. Buzz has been there before," President Obama said during a speech on April 15 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Florida, referring to Buzz Aldrin, who attended the event. "There's a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do."

What Obama didn't mention was that Aldrin was one of the most vocal critics of NASA's return trip to the moon, advising instead a robot-only lunar presence for the United States, while concentrating on manned expeditions to Mars and its moons. Even those experts in favor of a lunar outpost saw it as little more than a logistical necessity—a place to mine for fuel and launch missions into deep space.


For you who would prefer to go to Mars, well we have a lot of data on Mars now and you can explore on your own.
- LRK -

 NASA Be A Martian - Welcome

Age of Virtual Exploration & the Human-Robotic Partnership

I want to be a Martian Citizen. >  Account Set Up
I just want to look around. > Anonymous Tourist Visa
I am a Martian Citizen.

This site was created under a Memorandum of Understanding between NASA/JPL-Caltech and Microsoft.

OK, forgive me, but I am going back to my reading and day dreaming.

Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -

Web Site:
Comments accepted here -
RSS link:

Robonaut2 Shows Real Workplace Potential For Humanoid Robots GM and NASA unveil the latest upgrades to the torso-bot, Robonaut2 (R2). The new R2 shows off impressive design, flexes complex abilities and, finally, brings real-world job skills—in the factory or at the space station—to the humanoid bot. 
By Erik Sofge
February 4, 2010 12:00 AM

For all the attention they get, humanoid robots tend to be a pretty shallow bunch. Honda's Asimo  dances, shakes hands, and occasionally serves tea. Toyota's series of Partner Robots can play musical instruments and guide visitors around one of the carmaker's facilities in Japan. A range of less famous models in labs  round the world grab headlines by gripping objects without destroying them, or walking a few steps without tipping onto their extremely expensive heads.  Humanoid bots are the celebrities of the robot world.

Which is why the unveiling this morning of Robonaut2—or R2—a collaboration between General Motor and NASA's Johnson Space Center, is such a milestone. R2 is the direct descendant of Robonaut, a humanoid model designed by NASA to assist astronauts during spacewalks (or extravehicular activities; EVAs, as the agency calls them), planetary exploration or any mission that could use an extra pair of dextrous hands. NASA intentionally avoided the complex, expensive business of two-legged mobility, instead fitting the robot with a single leg, designed to fit into the foot-restraints used by astronauts during EVAs. The robot could also be mounted, Centaur-like, on a wheeled platform. Robonaut never made it into space, but starting in 2007, General Motors embedded a team of their engineers with the existing Robonaut team at Johnson Space Center in Houston, to help design the robot's successor. GM also provided funding for the project, a move that, given NASA's current budgetary reshuffling, could be visionary in hindsight.

So why, exactly, would an embattled automaker devote its dwindling resources to a robot designed to clamber around spacecraft or motor across other planets? For the same reason GM has always been interested in robots: to build cars. "We had a common agenda with NASA," says Allen Taub, vice president of global research and development at GM. "They wanted to make a robot that could work next to an astronaut," he says. "The question we wanted to answer was, 'How do I make a robot so it can work with operators, without all of the safety precautions and cages?'" As they go through their automated routines, industrial assembly bots are inherently dangerous to be around. And according to Taub, installing cages and other safety measures often costs more than the robot itself. "This robot can be going through its paces, and if you just hold your hand up, it hits your hand and stops," he says

Review: Moonbase Alpha
July 11, 2010  Elizabeth Howell

All that’s missing from this lunar experience is that gunpowder-smell of regolith the Apollo astronauts reported when they returned to their spacecraft.

Moonbase Alpha is a game created by Learning Technologies, an educational-technology incubator within NASA. (There is apparently no relation to the Space:1999 Moonbase Alpha.)

The aim of the program is to complement science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the schools and present NASA’s work in a way that engages with young people. LT is also making forays into Second Life and creating another game, Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond.

What’s astounding is the amount of stuff Moonbase gets right about landing on the lunar surface. Astronauts have that same floaty-falling walk you’re used to seeing in the Apollo missions. There’s a fierce glare when staring straight at the sun, and the dust covers everything from the rovers to the astronauts. The mission is to restore the oxygen flow at a NASA lunar outpost after a meteor strike heavily damages the base. Single players or teams of up to six people can work on solving the problem using rovers, wrenches, welders and some spare tools loaded in an equipment shack on the moon.

There’s a competitive mode if you feel like challenging yourself to complete the repair in 25 minutes; after two tries in non-competitive mode I knew I was nowhere near beating the mark. My first attempt ran 90 minutes as I fumbled around the base, tangling robots in hoses and occasionally getting lost. My second was a more respectable 38.

Space Simulators
Like being there...

A space simulator can be as simple as a spacecraft simulation program running on your PC or as elaborate as a detailed, full scale hardware simulation of a shuttle cockpit.

Or perhaps it's a large scale group simulation carried out over the internet in which the participants play different roles, e.g. mission controllers or astronauts, in carrying out a mission scenario such as launching a satellite from the shuttle.

This section provides links and descriptions of all sorts of web resources related to both software and hardware space simulations.

==============================================================  [Paperback]  [Hardcover]
Creation: Life and How to Make It
Steve Grand Review
Though its title brings to mind the hubris of Frankenstein, Steve
Grand's Creation: Life and How to Make It is just humble enough to
keep its readers hooked. Best known as the developer of the Creatures
series of artificial-life software, Grand has quite a following among
devotees of playful complexity.

The book ranges from deep ruminations on the nature of life and mind
(artificial and biological) to fairly concrete advice for future
creators, and his writing is just as elegant and compelling as his
software. Sometimes his cleverness gets the best of him, but for the
most part, his wordplay is used to serve his ideas, which are
thought-provoking even for readers who have no intention of creating

Many will be surprised at the strength of Grand's antireductionism,
but he makes his case vigorously and may win a few converts to the
emergent-phenomena camp. Creation is essential reading for those of us
who want to think through the consequences of our actions before we
imitate Frankenstein's mistake. --Rob Lightner


Steve Grand's Blog
Artificial Life in Real Life




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