NASA eel bot that may delve into the depths of moon Europa. NASA recently announced their current 15 winners of NIAC funding for $100,000 for each candidate. Among them is a project to develop a robotic eel to explore Europa, Jupiter’s moon. (via NASA)
Anyone seen that movie Europa Report? It may have inspired NASA...
NASA recently announced their winners of their annual NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. There are 15 winners in total that have far-out ideas (pun intended) about making science fiction a reality. NASA is hoping that these highly innovative, and a bit crazy, ideas will lead them to advances that can progress their ability to delve further into space.
One crazy idea that just might work is NIAC 2015 winner Mason Peck’s research to design a robotic eel that can explore the depths of Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons. The idea is highly innovative and calls for the invention of new technologies – including new power systems.
A mock-up for the robot design is seen above. It would be a soft-bodied robot that can swim and explore the aquatic depths of Europa. Peck describes the robot as more of a squid than an eel, as NASA calls it. The science behind it is pretty inspiring. The body of the eel/squid would have ‘tentacle’ structures that allow it to harvest power effectively from changing electromagnetic fields. The energy will power its rover subsystems, one of which allows it to expand and change shape to propel itself in water and on land. It would do this by electrolysis of water, creating H2 and O2 gas that will be harvested to expand, and combusted internally to act as a propulsion system. To learn more about the other 14 winners who scored $100,000 to develop technology like this, see their extensive report.
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