We know that exploration plays a vital role in space missions, especially when NASA decides to send a rover to explore nearby planets. However, the point is that, until now, rovers have often encountered tortuous terrain, making exploration difficult. But that dilemma may well end with the new rover being designed by NASA, Space.com reports.
This is DuAxle, short for dual-Axel, which is a combination of a pair of two-wheeled Axel rovers. For information, the Axel rover is a simple two-wheeled rover that has a long tether that connects it to a larger vehicle.
The Axel is equipped with a robotic arm through which it can collect samples. It is also equipped with stereoscopic cameras which it uses to take images.
A rover that can detach itself
DuAxel is therefore the combination of two Axel rovers. When the vehicle encounters a crater, pit, or extreme terrain, it may stop, lower its chassis, and anchor into the ground. It will then separate into two parts. The first part of the rover, and more precisely, its rear part will remain in place while the second part of the rover – its front part – will be able to detach and, thanks to the attachment, it will be able to explore the tortuous terrain while remaining stable. thanks to the part of the rover anchored in the ground.
Once the exploration of the crater or pit is completed, the front half of the rover can be rewound to its rear half. A few months ago, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tested the rover in the Mojave Desert. They found that Axel, the front half of the rover, managed to maneuver well on steep, rocky slopes.
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DuAxel could adapt to any type of terrain
Issa Nesnas, robotics technologist with JPL said in a NASA statement that DuAxel had performed extremely well in the field and that he had successfully demonstrated "his ability to approach difficult terrain, to anchor, then to detach its attached Axel rover ”.
Patrick Mcgarey specifically defines DuAxel as a transformer robot designed for planetary exploration. He states in the same release that " the main advantage of DuAxel is highlighted when you have uncertainty about the landing site ". When designing DuAxel, scientists have given special consideration to the landscapes of Mars, but they assure that this transformative rover can just as easily go to the Moon, Mercury or even the icy terrain of Europa, the moon of Jupiter.
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In any case, if DuAxek has passed the tests on Earth, it still has to demonstrate its know-how in space and so far no mission has yet been assigned to the new rover. But we can imagine that it will not be long.