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December 07, 2010

Hopping Around Mars?

Scientists in the UK are working on a concept for a Mars rover different than anything we've seen so far. Essentially, this rover would be able to make short "hops" from location to location on Mars, covering distances of about one kilometer. Perhaps one of the most promising aspects of the rover would be its efficiency. It would not require fuel because in between jumps, it would compress gas while running on a special battery that would last years instead of weeks and allow the rover to explore hundreds of locations. Some of the prime objectives of the rover would be to explore evidence for past life by visiting many and varying locations, but also to look into the possibility of using existing materials for processing future space nuclear systems with basic manufacturing techniques.

A video of the concept can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grffBimdwUg

And the article itself can be found here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118084046.htm

Posted by dankeith at December 7, 2010 10:11 PM


I think this will be very important in getting information from different regions of Mars in the same time period instead of sending out different missions at different points in time. This way, we can more accurately compare findings in context. We could determine how conditions in one area have an impact on the conditions of other areas of the planet.

Posted by: nealroth at December 10, 2010 02:48 PM

I think that this is a very cool and unconventional idea. It seems as though the common idea for exploring a body is to create a probe or rover to investigate the surface. This idea of a hopper is a new approach, however I do think that it could be quite risky due to the precision necessary to continually hop. They will probably be unable to adjust it in real time during a hop so it will require a lot of planning.

Posted by: defried at December 10, 2010 08:20 PM

This seems like an interesting idea but are the scientist going to be able to control where the rover will land after every jump. I am sure there are plenty of factors that could effect the rover while it is in the air. Mars isn't exactly a flat surface all over, meaning it will have ditches and hills. I am sure these questions have been posed tot he scientists and it would be interesting to find out how they replied to them.

Posted by: kalajk at December 12, 2010 03:14 PM

Development of this kind power source for spacecraft such as this could potentially open the doors for more efficient space exploration. I would be especially interested to know how much the execution of such a project would cost.

Posted by: devdrake at December 13, 2010 08:47 AM

I think this developing technology sounds promising for finding new discoveries on Mars, but I cannot help but wonder if is possibly too good to be true and actually be executed. Scientists working on this rover are probably already considering the numerous, possible challenges in building a rover that could withstand such as Mars's landscape and temperature. I am very interested in knowing if this rover is successful in the future, and how this project pans out.

Posted by: eswhang at December 14, 2010 01:23 AM

Even NASA's going green!

On a more serious note, I think it'd be interesting to find out which kinds of tests this rover would be slated to perform...

The consensus now is that Mars' surface does not contain life, but instead some sophisticated geochemical processes.

Perhaps Mars has life inside the surface, couldn't there be life closer to the frozen subsurface water... could there even be some patches of liquid water (unlikely) hiding below the surface?

Posted by: dkaknjo at December 15, 2010 01:51 PM

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