Bound for Saturn moon Titan, latest NASA exploration robots are the Super Ball Bots -- tensegrity-based bots that look like walking pickup-sticks.
We've told you about several NASA-sponsored efforts to create new types of robots for exploring planets, moons, and asteroids. Some of them, like the golf-ball-sized robotic droplets and the flywheel-driven, swarming "hedgehogs," are spheroids, an ideal shape for several reasons. The latest are the Super Ball Bots, and they sort of look like spheres, but are constructed quite differently. They're being designed to go to Saturn's largest moon, Titan.
Like the robotic droplets, Super Ball Bots' main mission is gathering scientific data. The larger version, with a mass of 75 kg, will carry all three scientific instrumentation packages: Atmospheric and Meteorology, Analytical Chemistry, and Imaging. The smaller version, with a mass of 40 kg, will carry only the Atmospheric and Meteorology and Imaging packages. These are described in some detail in a presentation given last spring by the main researchers at NASA Ames Research Center. You can also access the Phase I final report here.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
In this concept drawing of a proposed mission, many Super Ball Bots could be deployed and bounce to a landing on a planet, moon, or asteroid before moving around and exploring the surface.
(Source: NASA Ames Research Center)
Article originally published on Design News.