Thursday, 9 January 2014

NASA unveils the first robot Super Ball Bot for landing on Titan, a moon of Saturn

Super Ball Bot
Super Ball Bot-1

NASA multiplies space exploration and it has unveiled a new kind of robot that will be able to lie on the floor of Titan, Saturn's moon, thanks to its particularly amazing abilities. Super Ball Bot is the new prototype rover designed by NASA. Whose main purpose will be to successfully land on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Indeed, the agency is not limited only to missions lunar and Martian exploration but also wants to gather data about other stellar objects in our solar system.

In this case, the observation of Titan is interesting since the satellite has many features common to Earth, even if it is more akin to a primitive version of our planet. One of the main similarities is the climate on the surface of Titan; since the winds are present and form dunes, hills and cliffs. Quite surprising it that also has seasonal changes as such of Earth. Super Ball Bot represents the first fruits of this exploration mission. And he also has very special characteristics: it is completely designed with only limps.

As we can see from the picture above, the rover is able to move in a rather strange way since it gives the impression of sagging then recover while going forward. Super Ball Bot actually works on the principle of tensegrity. Tensegrity is an architectural principle in which the ability of a structure to stabilize the forces of tension and compression distributed therein and will be balanced.

Structures established by the tensegrity are stabilized, not by the strength of their individual components, but the distribution and balance of mechanical stresses in the entire structure. Main advantage is its less weight while Curiosity weighs nearly a ton (900kg), this robot will be much lighter and easier landing on Titan. However there are still some challenges to control its management and its movements.

NASA explained that if this prototype was validated, it could then launch an exploratory mission and release large number of these robots explorers on the surface of Titan. In any case, it is exciting to see that the U.S. space agency is exploring many opportunities to learn about our solar system. We have to wait for the mission success and to learn more about Titan.

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