Castrol joins the Media Lab to support research on lunar landings


MIT Media Lab

Fangzheng Liu 

Castrol membership supports the AstroAnt Payload Program—a miniature robotic swarm designed to perform tasks on the surfaces of spacecraft, rovers, and landers.

AstroAnts constitute a miniature robotic swarm designed to perform inspections and diagnostic tasks on the external surfaces of spacecraft, rovers, and landers. Each robot features a modular design; the sensor payloads can be tailored based on different inspection missions, and the data collected from the robots can be used to monitor operations in space. Working with Lunar Outpost, the AstroAnt robot will be sent to the Moon for a technology demonstration test.

Through this research collaboration, Castrol will work closely with the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative and Responsive Environments research group to test space-grade lubricants to withstand the extreme environment of the lunar surface enabling the AstroAnt robot’s motors to function as it collects thermal data and measurements of the Lunar Outpost MAPP Rover.

“At Castrol, we are moving forward on a pathway of change. We have been involved in the Space industry for over 65 years, including many of the pioneering Apollo missions. The success of autonomous machines like AstroAnt will be critical for remote maintenance operating in environments where repair or failure is not an option.” Michelle Jou, CEO Castrol.[see new images] Please use credits as stated.

“We are privileged to be working with the MIT Media Lab as a research collaborator, pushing the boundaries of space exploration, leveraging ground-breaking technologies, and driving innovation to unlock the mysteries of the Moon and beyond,” says Nicola Buck, CMO Castrol.


MIT Media Lab

The to the Moon to Stay Program  ( brings together the MIT community and program partners, including Castrol, to reimagine humanity’s return to the Moon. Payloads will be deployed on a Lunar Outpost MAPP rover to the Lunar south pole. The MAPP rover is carried by an Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander, which in turn rides aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to send cutting-edge experiments to the surface of the moon on a historic mission and as part of MIT’s To the Moon To Stay program,” states Dr. Ariel Ekblaw, Director of the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative, and Primary Investigator for MIT’s lunar mission with Lunar Outpost. “Our payloads represent core tenets of our research, from autonomous swarm robotics to supporting future VR-mediated exploration by lunar astronauts, to democratizing access to space through the messages we carry with us. This mission, enabled by NASA CLPS, also marks a major milestone for researchers—we can now reach the moon faster and more economically than ever before."


Lunar Outpost 2023

Explore the AstroAnt project

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