"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
(New Scientist Space) The first lunar colonists may not be a humans but compact robots capable of jumping more than a kilometre in a single bound.
Engineers at US defence contractor Raytheon, in Massachusetts, have developed a robot, dubbed the Lunar Penguin, that could one day bounce across perilous craters and imposing mountains on the Moon's craggy surface using a set of compact rocket boosters.
Despite the name the robots bear little resemblance to the shape of a penguin, as they are a simple four legged lunar machine that's under one meter tall. The bot would aid astronauts as they would scout out useful landing sites, locate mineral resources and detect dangerous locations without exposing astronauts to the extra radiation from the sun.
But [Max] Meerman [a researcher at UK space company Surrey Satellites,] adds that leaping such distances across the surface of the Moon could subject any instruments aboard the robot to severe stress. "Landing on the Moon is notoriously difficult," he says. "Much more so than on Mars, so doing it multiple times will be a big engineering challenge."
Although this gizmo has more bugs to work out (such as configuring the GPS for the moon's surface instead of Earth's) this robot may prove to be quite useful on the moons surface and potentially on other worlds as well. This bot could also serve as a stress reliever for overworked astronauts. After all, who wouldn't want to play leap frog on the lunar surface?
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