Sunday, July 23, 2006

Drilling For Water On Mars Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
Before we can actually establish a colony on the red planet, we first need to locate adequate supplies of water. If scientists are able to locate where possible sources of water lie on Mars (via new technology, rovers or telescopes) then it will be much easier to set up a colony on that dusty world.

But before humans are sent towards Mars, robots will have to do the dirty work first. And it looks like scientists are building one smart enough to handle the job.

(Red Orbit) NASA scientists plan to drill someday into the surface of Mars to look for water and signs of possible life. So, scientists are developing an automated, unmanned drill rig that can operate totally on its own, unsupervised for hours at a time. [...]

An eight-person team, made up of scientists and engineers from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will set up drilling equipment that is a little taller than a human being, and sits in a footprint of about one square yard (one square meter).

Earth-based experiments will help scientists learn if synthetic brainpower is able to control a rig on Mars for many hours of drilling without human intervention. Future Mars missions with drills will likely have the ability to communicate with Earth only once or twice a day.

Since people will be unable to directly observe what is happening on Mars, scientists were forced to create an AI (or artificial intelligence) for the bot. Using lasers, vibration sensors and logic, this machine will be able to tell when to stop drilling, adjust and (hopefully) locate any problems that come along the way.

Called the Drilling Automation for Mars Exploration project (or DAME for short), this piece of technology will become very useful once we begin the first stages of colonizing Mars.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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