Researchers from Stanford University in conjunction with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a robotic platform designed for the study of celestial bodies like planets, moons and asteroids.
Scientists believe that it is best to study the moon Phobos or cope robots are spherical in shape, covered with thorns. According to experts, the mission of robotic hedgehogs will be as follows: first, low-cost carrier platform on the surface of an asteroid or satellite resets one or more robots. Next, stand-alone "hedgehogs" in diameter will be less than 60 cm, will, jumping and rolling on the surface, to collect scientific data and then send them back to Earth via the platform-drive.
The main advantage of the robot is autonomous urchins work at many stages of the mission, which significantly speeds up and simplifies the study and allows you to make one more step towards further space exploration.
Among other things, the cost of the proposed spherical robot acceptable and in operation they are more reliable as compared with the usual multiwheel rovers. Wheeled carts on celestial bodies with a characteristically low-gravity easily tip over. And the construction of the "hedgehog" does not include any wheels or tracks.
The robot moves through the action of three drives, hidden inside a spherical enclosure. To inertia moved robot places a sufficiently rapid rotation of the disc. As a result, the robot hedgehog can quickly roll over uneven surfaces, changing direction and avoiding various obstacles. With the help of solar panels robot generates energy, but the spikes are located on the surface of the body contribute to the cross, preventing jams.
The developers are currently engaged in conducting tests of prototypes robot hedgehog, which include dropping the robot from the plane. At the completion of the original "researcher" of asteroids and satellites and then send it to the mission Phobos Surveyor will take another 10-20 years.