NASA Funds Cyber Insects for Advanced Mars Exploration

Robotics

Photo by Vadim Sadovski via Shutterstock

 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is investing in a group of robotic bees with the potential to fly across and explore Mars’ surface.

The robotic insects called Marsbees have the same size as bumblebees but with giant wings for enhanced aerodynamics. According to NASA, the objective of their work is to increase the possible science missions and explorations on Mars by investigating the feasibility of the architectures in the Martian environment. 

Marsbees are developed by Japanese and US scientists and are proposed to be fitted with wireless communication devices and sensors so that they can easily map the terrain, spot for signs of life (like methane emissions), and to also take samples in Mars. NASA admits that although there are already rovers that are exploring the Red Planet, the move is incredibly slow.

NASA shares that the Marsbees will also have their own mobile base, like the rover, so that this will be their recharging area after deployment. 

The team from the University of Alabama will model, optimize, and analyze the flapping flyer for Mars atmospheric conditions, while the Japanese team will create and test the micro flapping technology.

University of Alabama’s Dr. Chang-kwon Kang, said, “Marsbee offers many benefits over traditional aerospace systems.” Dr. Kang adds that the robots offer more flexibility because of their smaller volume.