Washington, May 10:
NASA is planning a “robotic eel” to explore the icy waters of Jupiter’s moon Europa where it will derive energy from the local magnetic fields.
Part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme, the soft-robotic amphibious rover will resemble an eel or a squid.
The robot will use innovative means to power itself, as even solar panels could be unreliable. It will be equipped with unusual antenna that can derive electrical charges from locally changing magnetic fields.
“The long-term goal is to explore gas-giant moons like Europa, particularly in aquatic regions where conventional power systems would prove woefully inadequate,” the US space agency said in a statement.
For the NIAC programme, the US space agency has selected 15 different proposals which will each receive a $100,000 grant, allowing awardees to conduct a nine-month-long study to define and begin developing their concepts.
If successful, they can apply for the second phase of the programme with $500,000 funding for two additional years of development.
Earlier this year, NASA examined the concept of sending a submarine drone to explore the icy methane seas of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.
The drone will largely be autonomous due to the extreme distance between Titan and the Earth.
The NIAC programme funds cutting-edge concepts that have the potential to transform future missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating aerospace systems. (IANS)