from the watch-your-step dept.
astroengine writes "A deadly bed of icy javelins — known as penitentes — could be awaiting any spacecraft that tries to land on some parts of the ice-covered world Europa, say researchers who have carefully modeled the ice processes at work on parts of the Jovian moon to detect features beyond the current low resolution images. If the prediction of long vertical blades of ice is correct, it will not only help engineers design a lander to tame or avoid the sabers, but also help explain a couple of nagging mysteries about the strange moon. 'This is a game changer,' said planetary scientist Don Blankenship of the University of Texas in Austin. Blankenship has been involved in NASA's planning process for sending a reconnaissance spacecraft and eventually a lander to Europa."
"Today's robots are very primitive, capable of understanding only a few
simple instructions such as 'go left', 'go right', and 'build car'."