Moon landing rover that looks like flying saucer to ‘levitate’ across lunar surface | Science | News


The rover resembles a flying saucer and uses miniature ion thrusters, called ionic-liquid ion sources to levitate. The vehicle takes advantage of the natural electric fields that are built up over the Moon’s surface due to the direct exposure to solar radiation and to a lack of atmosphere.

This surface charge is said to be strong enough to kick up Moondust and levitate it more than three feet above the ground just like static electricity makes the hair stand on end.

At the moment the device is still a concept and has only been tested out in simulations, not in a real-world scenario.

However, the team of researchers at MIT are confident that it will operate as predicted.

The researchers hope that this kind of device could one day help future missions to the Moon and asteroids and will safely hover and manoeuvre over unknown, uneven terrain.

The rover works by sending electricity in the form of ions into the surface of the moon, which would then get repelled by the lunar surface, pushing it off the ground.

In their first feasibility study, the researchers found that the ion repulsion boost could be strong enough to get a 2lb vehicle on the moon, or on a large asteroid such as Psyche.

Lead author Oliver Jia-Richards, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics said: “We think of using this like the Hayabusa missions that were launched by the Japanese space agency.

“That spacecraft operated around a small asteroid and deployed small rovers to its surface.

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