May 26, 2022


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MIT Scientists Design a ‘Flying Saucer’ That Could Float Across The Moon

Researchers have imagined a lightweight, traveling saucer-design rover that can float across the floor of the Moon and other airless planetary surfaces this sort of as asteroids.

The ‘flying saucer’ would be driven by the electric industry that builds up owing to immediate publicity to the Sunlight and its encompassing plasma. In the absence of an ambiance, this photo voltaic publicity generates a demand that’s capable to levitate dust additional than a meter (extra than 3 feet) above the lunar floor, and it could be feasible to harness this energy.


The rover would be produced of a content known as Mylar, which the natural way holds the similar charge when strike by the Sun’s rays. Small ion beams would be employed to both demand up the car or truck and improve the purely natural surface area demand, counteracting gravity.

How the rover may possibly seem. (MIT)

“With a levitating rover, you you should not have to be concerned about wheels or moving areas,” says aerospace engineer Paulo Lozano, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technological know-how (MIT).

“An asteroid’s terrain could be completely uneven, and as extensive as you had a managed system to hold your rover floating, then you could go about very rough, unexplored terrain, without having having to dodge the asteroid bodily.”

The ion thrusters, called ionic-liquid ion resources, are little nozzles that have beforehand been employed to propel satellites via house. The real gas is molten salt, which when strike with an electrical charge, shoots out of the nozzles as a beam.

Listed here, the demand is transferred to the surface underneath to supplement its own purely natural demand. Mathematical designs verified the thought could function, and would provide plenty of of a thrust to get the gliding rover off the floor.

In a lab experiment employing ionic-liquid ion resources to build an electrostatic force, the group was able to get a smaller, palm-sized motor vehicle weighing about 60 grams (2.1 ounces) to levitate. The amount of money of power demanded would rely on the dimensions of the planetary system.

The examination set up. (MIT)

“This kind of ionic design and style uses very small electric power to produce a ton of voltage,” claims Lozano. “The ability wanted is so tiny, you could do this nearly for cost-free.”

When you are packing for a trip to the Moon (or wherever else in house), it is really vital to pack as gentle as probable – heavier masses want more gasoline and expense far more funds to launch. In this situation, the proposed probe would be sourcing a good deal of its ability the natural way.


The present-day examination only proves that levitation is probable. In buy to get the rover up to a respectable height, additional modeling is heading to be demanded, the researchers say – but the fundamental calculations verify out.

Massive asteroids like Psyche could also be explored by this sort of rover, providing gurus a way of analyzing these rocky bodies up close with a car that is not fazed by uneven surfaces and which can attract some of its electric power from normal electrical fields.

“We assume of making use of this like the Hayabusa missions that have been launched by the Japanese area company,” suggests Oliver Jia-Richards, a NASA Area Technology Research Fellow from MIT.

“That spacecraft operated close to a tiny asteroid and deployed tiny rovers to its floor. Equally, we believe a potential mission could ship out modest hovering rovers to explore the surface of the Moon and other asteroids.”

The analysis has been revealed in the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets.