NASA Tumbleweed Rolls Across Antarctica

Posted 4 Mar 2004 at 23:05 UTC by steve Share This

The NSF issued a press release yesterday announcing that the NASA Tumbleweed, a two-meter beachball-shaped robot, had completed a 70 km roll across Antarctica's polar plateau. The robot left the NSF Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on Jan. 24 and made the journey in 8 days propelled by wind at up to 30 kph (average speed was 1.3 kph). The Tumbleweed is a mini test version of an eventual 6 meter robot designed to roll across Mars at 25 kph, bouncing over rocks as large as 1 meter. The robot can with withstand impacts of up to 30 m/sec so no parachute is needed for landing.

I wonder, posted 8 Mar 2004 at 19:58 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

I wonder how they handle large crevices or holes? Can they steer it some? To avoid previously noted holes, voids and cracks. I can see smaller cracks not being a problem, but the big ones.... It would be hard to go up and pry it out of a big crack if it is on Mars.

Oops, posted 8 Mar 2004 at 20:00 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

Oops hit the post button too soon. It would really be cool though to see a dozen of these things going over Mars for a while. They could really get in a lot of photos of the surface. The real trick would be taking clear photos on the run. Then transmitting them up to the orbiter for transfer to Earth. :)

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