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NASA Robotics Space

Hedgehog Rovers Hop and Tumble In Microgravity 31

New submitter rgreid writes: Prototypes of a new type of rover designed to explore the surface of comets and asteroids have been demonstrated recently by JPL and Stanford. Videos of the rovers in NASA's "vomit comet" show the Hedgehog prototypes performing hopping and tumbling maneuvers in a low-gravity environment. The low gravity and rough terrains found on comets and asteroids make driving with traditional rovers difficult and hazardous— the Hedgehog rovers are specifically designed to overcome these challenges and use the low gravity environment to their advantage. A last-resort "tornado" maneuver shows how the Hedgehogs could leap upwards if they get stuck in a sinkhole. The team's concept was previously covered in 2013; this recent work goes a long way toward demonstrating that Hedgehog rovers could work on a real comet or asteroid.

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Hedgehog Rovers Hop and Tumble In Microgravity

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  • So what's to stop it flying straight off the comet when it performs the "spin-off" maneuver to get out of a hole?

    • I don't know, microgravity maybe?

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      what's to stop it flying straight off the comet when it performs the "spin-off" maneuver...

      It generally takes a lot of momentum to leave a typical medium-sized asteroid. The "spin" maneuver is only a last-resort maneuver if a probe gets outright stuck. It may make it "fly" pretty high if it rubs rocks at certain angles, but not enough to leave the asteroid/comet. It would probably be more like Philae's (unintentional) bouncing around. On a smaller body it may put it into orbit, but with some fuel it may b

  • in Philae's failure to stick to the surface and it's subsequent journey into the pit of doom, NASA has seen an inspiration to make the next robot work any way up and be able to move as well...
    • by necro81 ( 917438 )

      in Philae's failure to stick to the surface and it's subsequent journey into the pit of doom

      Wait, I thought it was the pit of despair [youtube.com].

      [clears throat] Don't even think about trying to escape.

  • The Japanese already flew one. Unfortunately they never got the lander to land.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org]

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      That one wasn't cubical, it looked like a solar-powered music drum with spikes. Same general concept, though: tumble-able using fly-wheel(s) for movement.

      Would be funny if they wrote "The Beatles" on it.

  • Ron Jeremy does not approve.
  • Prospectors could deploy large numbers of these to assay asteroids in bulk at low cost.

  • For a moment I lived in hope of actual hedgehogs in space.

    That would be awesomely fantastic. A confused little snout wriggling in free-fall.

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