NASA prototype rover can split in two, could explore Mars mysterious dark streaks

NASA JPL took the DuAxel out for a take a look at run within the Mojave Desert.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.D. Gammell

NASA’s car-size Mars rovers are superior, versatile machines able to traversing rugged terrain. However they are not made to descend down the edges of craters. For that, NASA would wish one thing like its DuAxel prototype rover, a wild idea that’s two rovers in a single.

When all collectively, DuAxel is a four-wheeled rover. The rear can anchor itself to the bottom whereas the entrance goes free on two wheels. A tether holds the items collectively whereas the entrance part rappels down a steep slope. This might work effectively for exploring presently inaccessible crater partitions on Mars.

NASA put a DuAxel prototype by its paces within the Mojave Desert in California. “DuAxel carried out extraordinarily effectively within the subject, efficiently demonstrating its capability to method a difficult terrain, anchor, after which undock its tethered Axel rover,” robotics technologist Issa Nesnas stated in a press release from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Tuesday.

A video reveals the intelligent rover in motion and the way it can use onboard devices to get a detailed take a look at what’s below its wheels.

One of many motivations for growing DuAxel is to someday get a more in-depth take a look at enigmatic dark streaks called recurring slope lineae that seem on the aspect of some martian craters. Scientists try to determine if these have a watery origin.

The craters are too steep for a rover like Curiosity or Perseverance (which is presently on its technique to Mars), however a remodeling rappelling machine like DuAxel may deal with the problem.

It isn’t simply Mars science that would profit from the plucky little rover design. “DuAxel opens up entry to extra excessive terrain on planetary our bodies such because the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and presumably some icy worlds, like Jupiter’s moon Europa,” stated Nesnas.   

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Amanda Kooser