Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Robotic Bug's Life: To Study Mars

Date:
January 10, 2002
Source:
University Of Missouri-Rolla
Summary:
Insect-like robots may one day swarm over the surface of Mars, helping scientists better study the planet, says Dr. K.M. Isaac, a UMR professor of aerospace engineering, who is helping to develop this new breed of robots.

Insect-like robots may one day swarm over the surface of Mars, helping scientists better study the planet, says Dr. K.M. Isaac, a University of Missouri-Rolla professor of aerospace engineering, who is helping to develop this new breed of robots.

Isaac is working with NASA, The Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) and Georgia Institute of Technology to create a robotic flying machine called an Entomopter. The mechanical insect, capable of crawling as well as flying, will be able to study, videotape, photograph, and gather other types of information about planets, specifically Mars, closer than any current technology, Isaac says. Scientists hope to send these robotic bugs to Mars by the end of the decade, he adds.

The project name is "Planetary Exploration Using Biomimetics." "Biomimetics" refers to the development of machines that imitate birds or flying insects. Isaac's part of the research is centered on creating the Entomopter's wings. He must find the optimal size and shape for the wings to develop the necessary lift needed to make it fly. For the past six months, he and his graduate student, Pavan Shivaram, have been working on computer simulations and prototypes of the Entomopter's wings. This is where the study of insects really comes into play. The shape and weight, as well as the frequency in which the insect wings move, are quite different compared to conventional aircraft wings. Isaac is reviewing biologists' research about insects and birds in order to closely mimic an actual insect wing that can be scaled up to the Entomopter's size.

"This is very exploratory. One of the reasons that they want to do this (project) is to double up these individual technologies and be ready to use them when things are available," Isaac says.

The Entomopter could be as large as 5 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet long. The smallest it could be made depends on how small and light researchers can make the camera and other instruments and still fit them into the body of the robotic bug.

Researchers face several challenges in their attempts to ready the Entomopter for space flight. The first one is that Mars' atmosphere is composed mainly of carbon dioxide, which makes it hard for conventional aircraft to function because most conventional aircraft rely on oxygen-breathing motors. Instead, the aircraft will have to rely strictly on chemical or electrical propulsion. The second challenge is that Mars has a very low density of gas, which makes it difficult to create a lot of lift for the Entomopter. The gravity that exists on Mars is one-third that of Earth, so this is another consideration to take into account when constructing the Entomopter.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Missouri-Rolla. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Missouri-Rolla. "A Robotic Bug's Life: To Study Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109075306.htm>.
University Of Missouri-Rolla. (2002, January 10). A Robotic Bug's Life: To Study Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109075306.htm
University Of Missouri-Rolla. "A Robotic Bug's Life: To Study Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109075306.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

Space to Ground: Hello Georges

NASA (Aug. 18, 2014) Europe's ATV-5 delivers new science and the crew tests smart SPHERES. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

This Week @ NASA, August 15, 2014

NASA (Aug. 15, 2014) Carbon Observatory’s First Data, ATV-5 Delivers Cargo, Cygnus Departs Station and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Space Shuttle Replica Hoisted for Landmark Exhibit

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 14, 2014) The space shuttle replica Independence has been hoisted atop Space Center Houston's shuttle carrier aircraft, creating a monument to the shuttle program which will open to the public next year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins