January 28, 2021

COLDarm 400x275Motiv Space Systems, in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, announced the development of the COLDArm, a robotic arm designed to survive the extreme cold of the Moon’s South Pole. The goal is to usher in a new era of extended space exploration on the Moon, Mars and beyond, the company said in a statement.

COLDArm, which stands for Cold Operable Lunar Deployable Arm, is a component of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), a NASA program that will send small robotic landers and rovers to the Moon, including its South Pole – a region known for extremely cold temperatures in the dark of night.

The extreme cold is one of the biggest design challenges faced by robotics engineers, the companies said, since there are not many space components that are expected to last a lunar night or operate during a lunar night.

“COLDArm will be designed to operate in cryogenic environments using electronics and lubricant-free mechanical components that can function in environments as cold as -279 degrees F,” said Tom McCarthy, vice president of business development at Motiv. “The design will reduce the power needed for a rover or lander’s operations, enabling robots equipped with the arm to extend missions.”

The COLDArm is funded through NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) through its Game Changing Development Program. Motiv, which has also developed robotic arms for Perseverance (the new Mars Rover) and xLink, said the arm is adaptable and could potentially fit many of the rovers and landers that NASA has planned for future missions.

“Motiv Space Systems will continue to further the technology that furthers the exploration of space. COLDArm is just the beginning,” the company said.