The American Space agency NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has revealed that it is preparing drones to reach and study the inaccessible regions of Mars, Moon and asteroids. According to NASA, spacecrafts that are usually sent into the space cannot access several areas of celestial bodies including shaded region of a crater while drones can easily go into these craters and take sample revealing crucial information. It is also to be noticed that the step is taken after India’s ISRO announced that the it is planning to send rover to Mars, Moon and an asteroid by 2018.
Rob Mueller, senior technologist for advanced projects at Swamp Works at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.said that to exploit the resources of Mars and Moon, we need to locate where they are and it is most likely that they are hidden under areas where there is permanent shadow. He further added that the most of the shadow regions are covered by walls inclined more than 30 degree and it is very difficult for rovers to navigate through these walls. Drones are the only options we are left with. said Mueller.
What are Drones?
Drones are flying robotic machines. According to reports, NASA has named these drones as ‘Extreme Access Flyers’ which will appear like a quadcopter and will be specifically designed to survive into the thin atmosphere of Mars, and Moon which has no atmosphere. Also, they will be specifically designed to take soil samples in the distant locations and check whether it contains water either in liquid or solid state.
These drones will replace batteries and propellants on a lander used as a base station. Mueller believes battery consumption of drones will be very less which will enable lander to carry enough juice for the mission to complete successfully.
A team of scientists has already started training a flyer to search an appropriate location on the Earth for taking samples and navigate by creating landmarks. The flyer would be able to take 7 gm of soil at one go and researchers believe that it is enough to carry out further tests. Scientists at the Swamp Works laboratory have designed a five feet quadcopter as a prototype for the testing purposes. It will ensure scientists whether the mission is feasible or not.
Mueller believes that drones used for sampling purposes can be used on the Earth too apart from taking samples from celestial bodies. He explained that on the Earth. we can send these drones to examine and bring samples from heavily polluted areas or areas brimming with toxins or areas where it isn’t possible for humans to reach. Thus, the technology has future use and scientists should do their best in developing it.