Three Malaga scientists hope their robot will fly to the moon

The Green Moon team, in Malaga's Principia science centre.
The Green Moon team, in Malaga's Principia science centre. / S. SALAS
  • Project 'Green Moon' wins a place in the final of TeamIndus competition 'Lab2Moon' with a robot that studies seed growth in lunar soil

Despite only entering the competition days before it took place, three young scientists have worked their way into the final after they developed and presented their project in just 24 hours.

Competitors were told to create something that could accelerate interplanetary human evolution in a sustainable way. Therefore student José María Ortega Hernández, biologist Gonzalo Rocada Romero and engineer Julián Serrano Arabal, all 23, who successfully designed a model which aims to study seed growth on the moon, have made it into the top 25 of approximately 3,400 entrants.

The only Spanish finalists, the Malaga trio's creation is apparently simple but would be crucial for the implementation of a human settlement on the moon. The prototype will essentially be composed of four test tubes, each containing different mixtures of 'soil' from both the Earth and the Moon. From this, they hope to be able to observe what the optimum conditions are for seeds to germinate on the Earth's satellite.

The young scientists are also receiving advice and support from numerous experts, including Professor Jesús Manuel Gómez de Gabriel from the University of Malaga and the DHVTechnology company from Techonology Park of Andalusia (PTA). With their help, the team intend to build the tin-sized prototype using 'Makerbeam' technology, which consists of small aluminium profiles that can be modified to adjust components.

The winner will be chosen in spring after competitors have completed the final challenge proposed by TeamIndus. This Google-funded Indian engineering company intends to land on the moon in January 2018 with the help of the country's space agency (ISRO). The three Malaga scientists hope to see their creation go to the Moon with them.

SUR contacted Paul Edward, an engineer with expertise in structures and mechanisms, who acted as a mentor to the young scientists, and also has connections at TeamIndus. "The project has truly great potential, due to the originality of the idea and the people involved. If it is well developed, they have a great chance of it being sent to the moon," he said.