A “hanging hamster ball” robot could explore caves on the moon

I have a ball on the moon.

Julius Maximilians University

Hidden worlds can hide under the surface of the Moon. Scientists have noticed this the openings for what they expect are underground pipes, underground tunnels that were once filled with lava. The challenge is to explore these hard-to-reach places. A proposed robot named Daedalus might be able to perform it.

Daedalus advocates “Descent and Exploration in the Deep Autonomy of Lunar Underground Structures.” The European Space Agency is evaluating the robot concept along with other proposals for exploring lunar caves. Daedulus is especially fun because of its innovative design, which ESA compares to a “hanging hamster ball”.

The Daedulus design seeks an 18-inch (46-centimeter) sphere with a stereoscopic camera, a lidar 3D mapping system and sensors to help it suck up the underground environment, including temperature and radiation levels. He would also have a hand for examining rocks and moving obstacles.

The robot would be lowered into the cave with a string that would then break and let Daedalus explore on his own, rolling.

“With cameras acting as a stereo vision system and laser distance measurements, the sphere detects obstacles during the descent and moves independently reaching the bottom of the pit,” robotist Dorit Borrmann of the Daedalus team said in a statement to ESA on Wednesday.

Scientists are eager to look at the lunar caves, which could potentially be adapted as shelters for the continuous human exploration of the Moon. Caves can also contain valuable water resources. But before we send astronauts to the rush to the moon, it makes sense for the robots to go first.

Follow CNET’s 2021 space calendar to keep up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your Google Calendar.