Thứ Sáu, Tháng Sáu 2, 2023
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EELS: Slithering on Saturn’s icy moon

On a small moon of a distant planet, billions of kilometers from earth, a snake will soon slither through uncertain terrain. The 13 ft long, 100 kg ‘snake’ will observe its immediate surroundings, find a way through it and crawl across or bend itself to the side or stretch itself through the depths without falling in – while searching for life-altering aliens on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus.

Understandably named EELS (for the survival surveyor of the department of ectogenetics), the metal snake is a robot. Performed by the US space agency NASA, the engineering wonder will operate independently with human assistance. Unlike many other robots, it has no wheels to move; instead, it moves on 3D printed screw threads, which are placed horizontally. With this type of construction, EELS can go places other robots can’t.

“Imagine a self-driving car, but there are no stop signs, no traffic signals, not even any roads. The robot has to figure out what the path is and try to follow it,” said Rohan Thakker, the project’s autonomous team leader. “Then it needs to drop to 100 ft and not fall.”

Enceladus is one of those places where scientists believe there is a higher chance of hosting life. Saturn’s moon is so far away that any control from the earth is out of question. Therefore, the EELS automatic robot.

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