Thanks to the Spirit and Opportunity missions, the public has a pretty good idea of what a rover is: essentially an electrically-powered cart that uses a set of wheels to move across the terrain. However, some JPL scientists have a very different vision of what a rover could be: essentially a beach ball blown across the surface by the wind. In late January those scientists tested out the aptly-named Tumbleweed rover: a ball about 1.8 meters in diameter that spent eight days rolling across the polar terrain of Antarctica, propelled by the wind. The device, which resembles less a rover like Spirit and Opportunity than part of the air bags that cushioned their landing, collected data on atmospheric conditions and transmitted them (via an Iridium satellite telephone) back to JPL. Scientists would one day like to deploy a similar rover on the polar ice caps of Mars and perhaps on other worlds, including Venus and Saturn’s moon Titan.
A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of
The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.
If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.
This is the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy
The stunning image was made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories across the globe.
The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus
The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.
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