In this concept drawing of a proposed mission, many Super Ball Bots could be deployed and bounce to a landing on a planet, moon, or asteroid before moving around and exploring the surface. (Source: NASA Ames Research Center)
Ann--I think your post demonstrates the very best thing Design News Daily does--it keeps working non-NASA engineers "in the loop" by detailing fascinating technology. In the NIAC project report, there are twenty-six (26 ) students involved; five (5) schools "state-side" and three (3) schools from various parts of the world. Marvelous collaboration on this one project WITH published papers spreading the information. I hate to admit it but you are absolutely correct in you assessment that manned space flight is probably not on the books for some time to come BUT, un-manned efforts seem to be progressing nicely as demonstrated by your post. This is fascinating technology and obviously cutting-edge. Once again--great information.
Glad you enjoyed this Jim. I find the tensegrity concept fascinating and clever. Steering the spheres from the distance of Titan to Earth is not feasible, so my understand is that these are planned to be autonomous.
Very interesting, thanks Ann. The tensegrity spheres make me think of the little clickety-click spiders in Minority Report (Paramount Pictures, 2002) . I would think these little rovers would have to be entirely autonomous and only report back findings, since attempting to steer them seems unlikely.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.