JPL is the lead NASA heart for robotic exploration, which suggests we ship robots, not people, into house.
NASA has plans within the works to beat large challenges and ship people to Mars. Within the meantime, we’ve been sending rovers, landers, and orbiters to the floor of the Pink Planet, and growing applied sciences to dispatch extra superior robots to different photo voltaic system locations, such because the Moon, asteroids, and Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.
Many locales embody such obstacles as craggy cliffs, steep canyons, and slick ice masking a subsurface ocean. We have to design and construct robots that may safely navigate and survive these difficult options and function our agile stand-in explorers.
JPL has developed refined software program for all of the Mars rovers we’ve despatched that lets us preserve management right here on Earth. But we additionally write software program that enables the rovers to drive on the Martian floor as independently as potential, place devices on the floor, and use their cameras and different devices to see and sense their environment.
Going Out on a Limb for Exploration
To discover future photo voltaic system locations, we’re experimenting with varied designs utilizing limbs and wheels.
For instance, a four-limbed, 64-fingered rover named LEMUR (Limbed Tour Mechanical Utility Robotic) was developed to scale rock partitions by gripping with a whole lot of tiny fish hooks on every finger. That take a look at venture led to a brand new technology of robots that may stroll, climb, crawl, and even use grippers like a gecko to connect to surfaces.
As for robots that roll … JPL is, in reality, reinventing the wheel, or at the least varied wheeled automobiles. The Axel Rover has two wheels and a hyperlink that trails behind, and a more moderen DuAxel attaches two Axel Rovers to at least one one other. They roll alongside as a duo till they encounter a steep slope. That’s when the 2 Axels separate, remaining hooked up solely by a tether, whereas one rolls away to rappel down the slope, then return to its accomplice. Different two-wheelers embody a small, foldable, shoebox-sized robotic known as A-PUFFER that would sometime scour areas of the Moon not accessible to astronauts, and BRUIE, a submersible rover that would ultimately discover the subsurface oceans of the photo voltaic system’s icy moons.
These a number of configurations present extra choices for exploring Earth’s Moon, Mars, and presumably Europa. And for above-surface exploration, prototype airships are being examined to fly by way of the atmospheres of Venus and Saturn’s moon Titan. Future helicopter designs are being developed, to comply with up on the Mars Helicopter carried by the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.