What Are NASA’s Plans to Send Three Tiny Autonomous Rovers on the Moon?

In what is by far the most audacious endeavor, NASA is planning to send three autonomous, micro-sized rovers to the moon in the following year. The moon rovers, which have four wheels and are about the size of a carry-on suitcase, are part of a project called Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE). They will collaborate to complete tasks and only require initial, high-level input from humans.

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The Upcoming Mission of NASA on the Moon

Our mission is to demonstrate that a network of mobile robots can cooperate to accomplish a task without human intervention — autonomously, explained Subha Comandur, the CADRE project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

CADRE is one of the four different sets of payloads that are being carried by IM-3. A total mass of about 92 kilograms (203 pounds) of exploratory mission payloads will be carried by the Nova-C Lander during its launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission will focus on the fascinating Reiner Gamma area, which is one of a handful of unexplained swirls on the moon that are related to a local magnetic field. The rovers that belong to CADRE will be dropped onto the outer layer of our planetary friend via tethers. Once there, NASA’s little helpers will look for a place where they can charge their batteries using sunlight. After that, they will put their talents to the test by conducting various experiments over the remaining portion of the about 14 Earth day-long lunar daylight.

Under the watchful eye of a tracking cam perched on top of the 13-foot-tall (four-meter) lander, the probes are going to carry out their assigned tasks. Members of the mission team have stated that if the run is successful, it will demonstrate that a multi-spacecraft technique might assist us in exploring dangerous but highly valuable planetary body terrain.

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