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'Super ball bots' to explore other planets

Posted on Monday, 30 December, 2013 | Comment icon 5 comments

The ball bots could be sent to explore distant worlds. Image Credit: NASA
NASA has developed a new type of landing apparatus that could make exploring other worlds much easier.
One of the most cost prohibitive elements of placing a rover on another planet is the landing procedure. Traditionally, landing requires a complex set of stages involving retrorockets, parachutes, airbags and other mechanisms to get the spacecraft safely on to the ground.

To tackle this problem, researchers at NASA have developed a completely new style of landing system, one comprised of a flexible robotic exoskeleton capable of changing its shape and absorbing any impact with the ground.

NASA believes that its Super Ball Bot could survive being dropped from a height of up to 60 miles and then once on the ground could roll around on the surface by changing the length of its cables. It would even be possible to deploy several of them at a time, widening the possibilities of exploration for a single mission.

The space agency believes Saturn's moon Titan could be an ideal target for the new system as it sports a dense nitrogen atmosphere that could help to cushion the spacecraft's fall. Titan's uneven terrain would also make the proposed rolling mechanism superior to traditional wheeled vehicles in exploring the moon's surface.

Source: Red Orbit | Comments (5)

Tags: NASA, Super Ball Bot

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pallidin on 30 December, 2013, 17:24
Thinking "outside the box" I like it.
Comment icon #2 Posted by DieChecker on 30 December, 2013, 20:08
I read about this a couple days ago. Very cool. Interesting engineering solution to the problem.
Comment icon #3 Posted by highdesert50 on 31 December, 2013, 0:40
I was initially thinking they might have modeled the movement based on that of the sea urchin, but after viewing the video, their solution is brilliant.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hankenhunter on 31 December, 2013, 1:38
Could this technology be applied to save people from high rise building fires? Boing, boing? Hank
Comment icon #5 Posted by Sundew on 14 January, 2014, 2:07
Could this technology be applied to save people from high rise building fires? Boing, boing? Hank The proposed robots are only a few pounds, humans are much heavier, to scale this up to the size to protect a body falling from a building would probably mean they would have to be huge and therefore impractical.

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