Carolyn Parcheta, a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, has just announced that she has finalized the design of two robots whose objective will be to explore volcanic faults.
Called VolcanoBots, they take the form of a cylinder fitted with two wheels and have a host of sensors.
The VolcanoBot 1 is 30 cm long and is fitted with wheels 17 cm in diameter, it has already been tested in 2014 in the extinct volcano of Hawaii, Kilauea. Thanks to its various sensors, it had succeeded in mapping in 3D the volcanic fissure.
Thanks to the experience acquired with this first robot, the NASA JPL has developed a second model which will be tested at the beginning of next March. It is only 25 cm long with 12 cm wheels. It is equipped with a powerful engine and a camera capable of pivoting all around it to take pictures and assist its progress.
With VolcanoBot 2, NASA hopes to be able to go even further and explore the bottom of the Hawaiian volcano crack.
NASA has indicated that this research should make it possible to learn more about our Earth, but that in the long term, it could be envisaged to use these robots on other planets like Mars, Mercury or even satellites of Saturn. "In recent years, NASA vessels have sent extraordinary photos of caves and cracks on Mars and the Moon that appear to be of volcanic origin, but we still cannot afford to explore them. VolcanoBots could allow us to fill this gap and thus learn a lot about the history of these planets " said Aaron Parness, researcher at JPL Robotics.