Saturday, April 05, 2008

Video: Nomadic Space Bases Via Giant Robots? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

(Image: NASA's ATHLETE robot, Credit: NASA / JPL, via New Scientist Space)

If humanities overall goal is to eventually settle upon other worlds, we first have to locate ideal spots to establish a home.

This is probably easier said than done, as many engineers would prefer future space bases to be located near potential energy sources (i.e. in continuous sunlight), while many scientists would prefer them next to interesting features (such as craters, mountains, etc.).

But instead of arguing out where our species should establish its first permanent base, why not opt for nomadic ones via our mechanical friends?

(New Scientist Space) NASA engineers are testing out a giant, six-legged robot that could pick up and move a future Moon base thousands of kilometres across the lunar surface, allowing astronauts to explore much more than just the area around their landing site. [...]

But a gargantuan robotic vehicle called ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) could change that. Measuring about 7.5 metres wide, with legs more than 6 metres long, the robot could act essentially like a turtle, carrying the astronauts' living quarters around on its back.

Using giant robots to transport space bases may prove to be a better alternative than their stationary friends as the robots could move the base out of harms way from an upcoming solar storm as well as help shelter the base during a Martian globacane.

These mechanical insect giants could also solve the "energy dilemma," by constantly moving within the Sun's rays on the Moon (assuming that they would be solar powered of course).

(Videos: ATHLETE robot demonstrating its ability at carrying potential space bases, drilling holes, and traveling over terrain, Credit: NASA / JPL, via New Scientist Space).

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

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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