Robotic “hedgehog” probes for exploration of celestial objects with low gravity
Robotic “hedgehog” probes – small, spiky, spherical rovers – will be bombarded to the Martian moon in the next few decades, according to the scientists.
Those probes will be the part of the novel mission idea called Phobos Surveyor and they will have the ability of efficient working with the low gravity of the Mars’ moons or asteroids and in close connection with the nearby mother ship from which it will be launched. According to the researchers, the spacecraft would have a 2 feet (0.6 meters) diameter and NASA has already developed a prototype version.
According to the researcher Marco Pavone of Stanford University, hedgehogs will work well in the low gravity of the 16-mile-wide (27 kilometers) Phobos, where the force is 1,000 times weaker than the gravity on the planet Mars.
“The problem with [conventional] rovers is, in low gravity, you don’t have any traction. That means your wheels spin and you do not move,” said Pavone, who developed the hedgehog mission concept.
So, problem of smooth movement will be overcome by the use of rotating discs i.e. proposed three discs inside the hedgehog each aimed in a different direction. These three discs would enable the spacecraft to move precisely in different directions. Slight speed cause the hedgehog to tumble and the quick spin enable the hedgehog to jump to a nearby location.
“It’s the next level of autonomy in space,” Pavone said in a statement.