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January 8 2013

Next-Gen Space Rovers Do Acrobatics, Look Like Medieval Weapons


NASA’s past few Mars rovers have been friendly robots with head-like masts and cameras for eyes, easily anthropomorphized and adored. The next generation might be decidedly less cute--they resemble a medieval battle mace.

The Phobos Surveyor is a new concept from researchers at Stanford, MIT and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The spacecraft would visit the Martian moon Phobos, or maybe an asteroid. Then one or more mace-ball rovers would deploy from the mothership (which would stay in orbit above) and leap and tumble across the surface of the moon or asteroid.

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