NASA Proposes Steam-Powered Bot for Exploring Icy Moons

The sphere-sized robot concept is expected to beat any icy terrain it leaps across.


NSFW    WASHINGTON — NASA says it might use a steam-powered hopping robot to explore the icy terrain of Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus.

According to the agency's news release, the conceptual robot called SPARROW will feature avionics, instruments and thrusters inside a spherical protective shell, which is about the size of a soccer ball.

SPARROW stands for Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds.

The lander will transfer ice to the robot in situ, then the hopper will heat the substance into steam and use the gas to jump over great distances of the surface crust."

The SPARROW concept will navigate Europa's meter-high blades of ice that would stop other robots cold. After taking samples, the robot will then return to the lander for collection."
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