Norway researchers shoot for Mars / News / The Foreigner

Norway researchers shoot for Mars. SINTEF employees have developed a serpent-like robot that could be the next potential Mars explorer, they say. The Trondheim-based researchers are assisting ESA (the European Space Agency) in developing improved methods in exploring and understanding the Red Planet. The snake-like robot was designed in response to the limitations faced by existing Mars rovers.                       “Maneuverability is a challenge. The Spirit rover was lost after it became stuck in the sand on Mars,” SINTEF ICT’s Pål Liljebäck and Aksel Transeth said in a statement.

norwayspace, marssintef



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Norway researchers shoot for Mars

Published on Wednesday, 18th September, 2013 at 09:24 under the news category, by Linn Schjerven.

SINTEF employees have developed a serpent-like robot that could be the next potential Mars explorer, they say.

Snake robot illustration
Snake robot illustration
Photo: SINTEF ICT


The Trondheim-based researchers are assisting ESA (the European Space Agency) in developing improved methods in exploring and understanding the Red Planet. The snake-like robot was designed in response to the limitations faced by existing Mars rovers.                      

“Maneuverability is a challenge. The Spirit rover was lost after it became stuck in the sand on Mars,” SINTEF ICT’s Pål Liljebäck and Aksel Transeth said in a statement.

NASA has landed four rovers on Mars so far – Sojourner in 1997, Spirit and Opportunity in 2003, and Curiosity last summer.

These six-wheeled solar-powered robots have robotic arms that can operate cameras and take soil samples. They have limitations, however.

“The vehicles just cannot get to many of the places from which samples have to be taken,” the SINTEF ICT researchers stated.

According to them, the snake-robot would be able to deepen the search by exploring regions that have yet been inaccessible.

They are reportedly developing ways to pair the snake robot to a rover. This could navigate over long distances, whilst the robot could detach itself from the rover to crawl into tighter and smaller spaces.

“We are looking at several alternatives to enable a rover and a robot to work together,” commented Aksel Transeth, one of the researchers who is working on the robot.

He further explained that “since the rover has a powerful energy source, it can provide the snake robot with power through a cable extending between the rover and the robot.”

Other researcher Pål Liljebäck explained another advantage of the combined units. The connection between the robot and the rover would mean that the robotic snake could assist the rover in case it gets stuck.

“In such a situation, the robot could lower itself to the ground and coil itself around a rock enabling the rover to pull itself loose by means of the cable winch.”

The European Space Agency has a new space mission planned for 2018. Called ExoMars, the mission hopes to use the robot rover to explore the surface of Mars for evidence of microbial life.



Published on Wednesday, 18th September, 2013 at 09:24 under the news category, by Linn Schjerven.

This post has the following tags: norwayspace, marssintef.





  
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