Robotic Bees: New NASA Plan for Mars 

 

Mars is so far from the Earth. It costs billions of dollars to explore. And, at present, there is a rover on the planet that does not work well. So, NASA has plans for mapping out Mars and this is to create robotic bees. 

Exploring habitats on Mars with the use of rover is slow, expensive, and ineffective. According to NASA, it exhausted its total funding reserves with approximately $2.5 billion. Good thing is that a team of talented researchers at the University of Huntsville, came up with an awesome alternative, called as marsbees. These would be a swarm of bee size robots with the ability to cover a greater distance than what a rover could commonly do.

However, this does not mean that a rover would not be used. As a matter of fact, it would be a recharge station as well as a communications hub for the bee robots. 

Along with the objectives of the project is to take air samples to detect methane emissions. The presence of methane and carbon monoxide is a sign of life on Mars. Over the past few years, the Curiosity rover found a low level of methane on Mars. However, the presentation was just a seasonal pattern. Scientists or astronauts proved that they are not biological processes. 

The idea was one of the different shortlisted proposals to the Innovative Advanced Concepts program of NASA. Other proposals include balloon platforms to navigate extreme terrains, shape-shifting robots to roll up into a ball or even roll on Titan’s surface. 

Assistant Professor, Chang-Kwon Kang, at the University of Alabama writes that their numerical results suggest that a bee robot with a cicada wing can make enough lift to hover in Mars in a blog post in NASA. Since the Martian environment is thin, there is not enough presence of air that can affect a flapping robot. 

Fortunately, Mars has ideal gravitational pull. That is why NASA scientists consider it as an advantage and have plans to recoup wasted energy with an effective energy harvesting mechanism. 

The advantages of robo-bees will be more than what the Curiosity rover could give. They would be more resilient and flexible for a better result. The navigation of mountainous surface would likewise become simple. Since bees could form sensors, the accuracy of results would always happen. 

The team in Huntsville has proposed to work with researchers in Japan to make the project come to life. The Japanese team has the reputation of developing the Micro-Air Vehicle that can fly in space.