NASA is considering to use robot squids for searching the traces of the life at Europa’s underground oceans

RoboticsMay 22, 2015

Within the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program which purpose is the embodiment in reality of some science-fiction technologies, the American space agency considers 15 offers concerning creation of robots capable to conduct researches of underground and subglacial oceans and reservoirs of satellites of planets – gas giants, such as Europa. And the most interesting offer is the soft robot squid having the short antenna by means of which it collects energy necessary for it from variation magnetic fields of local scale on its case.

“We offered a unique design of the robot intended for researches of the ocean of Europa and other planets to consideration. In our design methods so-called “a soft robotics” by means of which robots will be able to perform such tasks for a long time are used, on what the ordinary robots working at the expense of solar or nuclear energy” are incapable – Mason Peck (Mason Peck), one of developers of the robot of Cornish university tells.

The case of the soft robot in a form very reminds a sea squid, his feelers play not only a role of the electrodynamic antennas developing energy from changes of local magnetic fields, they are also effectors of the bioinspired motive system of the robot.

The second interesting concept of the robot intended for studying of Europa is the aircraft reminding a glider attached to a surface by very strong and thin cable cable. This aircraft, regulating height ranging from 15 to 20 kilometers, will constantly behave in area where wind force is sufficient for creation of the carrying power necessary for deduction in the atmosphere of the device and its freight of various scientific equipment.

In case of the successful solution of such task the aircraft will become something like the low satellite capable to be in a stratosphere of Europa for many years, collecting data, providing as relay station communication between Earth and devices working at a surface and at the ocean which can take the form of spiders, spheres or other forms, the most suitable under each specific conditions.

Now from all volume of the offers received by specialists of NASA within the NIAC program 15 most interesting offers were selected and the stage of their expert assessment during which technical, economic requirements to each project will be established is begun, and reasonable terms of their possible realization are determined.

It should be noted that the vast majority of the presented projects exists only in the form of a few developed ideas so far and only some are at the earliest stages of their realization. Except a robotics and automation of carrying out researches the project is covered also by other areas, such as jet propulsion, ensuring activity of the person in space, scientific tools and other technologies which can become useful at implementation of global plans of NASA.

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