2016 Challenge

The Amazing Asteroid Emergency Resource Collection Activity


Astronomers recently watched a small asteroid crash into a large asteroid, which has caused the large asteroid to now be on a collision course with Earth!

The large asteroid is still pretty far away, on an orbital trajectory that gives us a little bit of time to try figure out a way change the large asteroid’s course enough to prevent the collision.

Scientists have determined that attaching a rocket engine to another nearby smaller asteroid and using using the rocket to propel the smaller asteroid into the larger asteroid, would change the large asteroid’s orbit enough to save the Earth. However, that rocket has to be fired at exactly the right time to push the smaller asteroid into the larger one!


Unfortunately, it is impossible to ferry a large enough rocket engine and sufficient fuel to the asteroid. But, scientists have been analyzing the small asteroid using spectral analysis and have determined that the mineral composition of the asteroid would provide sufficient raw materials to be able to construct a rocket engine right on the asteroid, and that there are sufficient hydrocarbons trapped within the asteroid that can be tapped as fuel. (This is called In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).)

A team of some of the world’s best scientists and engineers are designing an Onsite Rocket Engine Construction Unit (ORECU) which will be deployed to the asteroid along with two resource collection robots. Your urgent task, as one of the world’s most amazing robotics experts, is to design a Asteroid Resource Collection Robot (ARCobot).

Your bot’s task is to work quickly another ARCobot to collect all the specific mineral rocket-building blocks from the asteroid and return them to the ORECU so that the rocket engine can be constructed. The ARCobots must also then follow the rocket fuel hose to the fuel tap and together weigh down the tap to ensure that the tap remains connected to the asteroid as the rocket fires, saving Earth!