There is news about Mars. Two teams of the researchers of NASA are working to design a robotic bee that actually could fly on Mars. The little bug-inspired robots — each about the size of a bumblebee — would sport battery-powered wings and various sensors. They would make brief flights, sampling the thin Martian atmosphere and reconnoitering the terrain below before returning to their home base probably a rover to recharge their batteries.
The space agency announced the project on March 30 2018. Though it’s in its early stages, but the idea is to replace modern rovers — which are slow, bulky and very expensive and with swarms of sensor-studded, fast-moving micro-bots that can cover much more ground at a relatively low cost.
Literally they called the special robot as Marsbees. A NASA official noted that these little robots are flapping wing flyers of a bumblebee size with cicada-sized wings.
As researchers has previously reported that the largest species of bumblebee grows to be up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) long, but the American bumblebee is about a quarter of that size. Cicada wings, according to a range of formal scientific descriptions, can vary from 1.2 inches (3 centimeters) to more than double that length, depending on the species.
A newspaper reported that these “bees” will not only map the Martian terrain but also collect samples of the planet’s thin air, in hopes of finding methane gas — a possible sign of life. NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected low levels of the gas previously, Science reported, though whether it was biologically produced is unknown.
Flapping-wing bots are pretty uncommon on Earth, the NASA statement noted, because rotary-wing bots like quadcopters are much more popular. But the flapping-wing design allows the team to integrate certain low-power, highly efficient technologies that will be important on the Red Planet, where the bots will have to return regularly to their home base to recharge. One of the researchers noted that, “Each Marsbee would carry an integrated video camera and the swarm could construct a 3-D topographic map of the local surface for rover path planning.”
Dr. David Weintraub, an outsider who isn’t involved with the project, said that this Marsbee concept made sense. He adds by saying that it could be an incredibly cost-efficient way of learning about Mars. Weintraub, the author of the forthcoming book “Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go,” said “ I’m very strongly in favor of doing as much robotic exploration of Mars as we can possibly do before we actually send people to Mars in large part because I’m concerned about contaminating Mars, just in case there’s any life there already.”
Marsbees are still in their very early stages, with a team at the University of Alabama working on numerical models and a Japanese team slated to design and test a micro-flapping-bot prototype.