【NASA发明破冰机器人 未来将前往木星冰层下寻找生命】

【NASA发明破冰机器人  未来将前往木星冰层下寻找生命】近日,美国宇航局打造了一款ICEBOTS机器人,它能承受低温,在极低温下能够正常运作。另外它能适应崎岖的地形,还可以钻到冰层中来寻找生命迹象。它自带的折叠爪全部伸展开可以达到十米长,可以抓取较远距离的物品。NASA称将在10—15年后将它送至木星,在冰层下寻找生命。

NASA reveals the robotic ICEBOTS set to tunnel through the icy surface of Europa to hunt for alien life in its underground oceans

  • NASA unveiled a team of robots that could make the trip to Europa in 10-15 years
  • Robots were designed to withstand cryogenic temperatures and rugged terrain
  • One can burrow miles into icy ground and another is a folding robotic arm
  • Another can remove ice pieces and the last one can gather samples 164ft away 

Because Jupiter's moon, Europa, has oceans lying beneath its surface, it said to be one of the most likely places in the solar system for life to thrive – researchers just have to burrow through miles of ice to find out.

Now, NASA has unveiled a team of robotic prototypes equip with special tools to penetrate the frozen terrain and search for signs of living microbes.

The squad of 'icebots' includes a machine that tunnels through the icy surface, a folding boom arm, an ice gripping claw and a projectile launcher capable of grabbing samples up to 164 feet away.

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The team of 'icebots' includes a machine that tunnels through the icy surface, a folding boom arm, an ice gripping claw (pictured) and a projectile launcher capable of grabbing samples up to 164 feet away

NASA has unveiled a set of robotic prototypes that it said could one day travel to Europa.

One prototype was inspired by so-called 'melt probes' used here on Earth – dubbed the ice-gripping claw.

A rotating saw blade on the bottom of the probe slowly turns and cuts through the ice.

The robot tosses the pieces back onto its body, where they melt due to the plutonium and pumped out behind it.

Researchers looked at the use of robotic arms, which are essential for reaching samples from landers or rovers.

The folding boom arm, when unfolded, extends almost 33 feet (10 meters).

For targets that are even farther away, a projectile launcher was developed that can fire a sampling mechanism up 164 feet (50 meters).

Also designed a rover with lightweight commercial wheels fixed to a rocker bogey suspension system.

Since 2015, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has been developing new technologies for use on future missions to ocean worlds.

The new prototypes were created as part of the Ocean World's Mobility and Sensing study, a research project funded by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington.

And each of the technologies are specifically designed to gather samples from and below the surface of an icy moon.

'In the future, we want to answer the question of whether there's life on the moons of the outer planets - on Europa, Enceladus and Titan,' said Tom Cwik, who leads JPL's Space Technology Program.

'We're working with NASA Headquarters to identify the specific systems we need to build now, so that in 10 or 15 years, they could be ready for a spacecraft.'

The team has conducted extensive research to understand the harsh elements these robotic helpers would face millions of miles away.

This includes temperate reaching hundreds of degrees below freezing and rovers crossing icy terrain that behaves like sand.

'Robotic systems would face cryogenic temperatures and rugged terrain and have to meet strict planetary protection requirements,' said Hari Nayar, who leads the robotics group that oversaw the research.

'One of the most exciting places we can go is deep into subsurface oceans - but doing so requires new technologies that don't exist yet.'

Now, NASA believes they are headed in the right direction with their latest set of robotic tools, which could one day make their way to Europa.

Brian Wilcox, an engineering fellow at JPL, designed a prototype inspired by so-called 'melt probes' used here on Earth - which the  team calls, ice gripping claw

These probes have been used to melt through snow and ice to explore subsurface regions since the late 1960s.

However, the machine's downfall is that it does not use heat efficiently.

Europa's crust could be 6.2 miles deep or it could be 12.4 miles deep (10 to 20 kilometers) and if a probe doesn't manage its energy, it would have to cool down until it stopped frozen in the ice.

Brian Wilcox, an engineering fellow at JPL, designed a prototype inspired by so-called 'melt probes' used here on Earth - which the team calls, ice gripping claw These probes have been used to melt through snow and ice to explore subsurface regions since the late 1960s

Brian Wilcox, an engineering fellow at JPL, designed a prototype inspired by so-called 'melt probes' used here on Earth - which the team calls, ice gripping claw These probes have been used to melt through snow and ice to explore subsurface regions since the late 1960s

The robot would toss the pieces off ice back onto its body, where they would be melted by the plutonium and pumped out behind it. Removing blocks of ice would ensure the probe drills at a steady pace through the ice without being blocked

But Wilcox believes he has solved the issue with a capsule insulated by vacuum - the same way a thermos bottle is insulated.

Instead of radiating heat outwards, it would retain energy from a chunk of heat-source plutonium as the probe sinks into the ice.

He suggested adding a rotating saw blade on the bottom of the probe, which would slowly turn and cut through the ice.

The robot would toss the pieces off ice back onto its body, where they would be melted by the plutonium and pumped out behind it.

Removing blocks of ice would ensure the probe drills at a steady pace through the ice without being blocked.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4369064/NASA-ICEBOTS-set-hunt-alien-life-Europa.html


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