NASA’s newest concepts for space exploration are fascinating – especially “Hedgehog” – a new explorer that can easily navigate comets.
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NASA recently released a video featuring one of its newest concepts for space exploration. Meet Hedgehog: a robot intended to overcome the difficulties of navigating low-gravity environments on comets, asteroids and other space objects.
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A typical rover makes its way around a mission site—say, the surface of Mars—much like a regular car. But a small body’s microgravity makes driving around a dangerous proposition—the rover could float away or tumble over and the mission would end. Hedgehog is different.
It’s basically a box with spikes and wheels on the inside. And brakes for those wheels. When those brakes are pulled, the box hops and tumbles, enabling it to move across a small body’s surface without falling victim to the low-gravity. There’s no correct side—it’s always upright no matter how it lands.
And Hedgehog also has a spinning “tornado” function so it can dislodge itself from sticky situations. According to NASA, “The construction of a Hedgehog robot is relatively low-cost compared to a traditional rover, and several could be packaged together for flight, the researchers say.
The mothership could release many robots at once or in stages, letting them spread out to make discoveries on a world never traversed before.”
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