Aug 22, 2023

The Zero Robotics (ZR) program returned to the International Space Station this summer with the 2023 LUNABEE Challenge. 46 teams of 600 middle school students from across the country wrote code to virtually collect lunar dust samples for analysis as part of the Artemis Engineering Team. Middle school students were invited to imagine that the Astrobee robot was operating on the surface of the moon and needed collect 24 grams of lunar dust. In this imagined mission, our Astronaut needed to signal to the Astrobee robot which research sites were active for dust collection. During the final event, live from the International Space Station, the signal was given by Astronaut Woody Hoburg using American Sign Language showing numbers between 1 and 9. Based on the numbers that the Astrobee received from the astronaut, students needed to write code for Astrobee to 1.) recognize the ASL active research sites, 2.) create a path to collect and/or duplicate dust, 3.) return samples to the base station for analysis. Following an established set of rules and conserving energy helped to maximize points. To prepare for the LunaBee challenge, Team Space Enabled at MIT, in close collaboration with NASA Ames and Innovation Learning Center, applied machine learning methods to train Astrobee to recognize hand gestures. This work and the other efforts to guide Zero Robotics use of Astrobee is led by doctoral student Yiyun Zhang and postdoctoral scholar Dr. Scott Dorrington. Through their technical leadership, Space Enabled has become the first Astrobee Guest Scientist to demonstrate gesture recognition on the ISS with Astrobee. Zero Robotics is led by Dr. Danielle Wood, Director of the MIT Space Enabled Research Group and Katie Magrane of the Innovation Learning Center, along with Mizanul Chowdhury of STEMx365.  You can watch the entire 2023 LunaBee Finals tournament here:  The three winning alliances were comprised of the following teams:



Quark Charm Jr.

Little Singer Colts (Team 2)

Mid Valley Family YMCA

Team Eureka

O'Maley Sailcoders


2nd PLACE ALLIANCE: Robo Rebels

Phoenix Robotics

Little Singer Colts  (Team 1)

Parras Kids

Palo Alto Ground Zero


3rd PLACE ALLIANCE: Masters of the Universe

Hive Mind

Space Spuds

Panther Robotics

Team Genius


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