NASA RASSOR rover digs for water, oxygen, and rocket fuel components

NASA is working on a concept rover called the Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot or RASSOR. RASSOR is apparently pronounced "razor" giving it the cool sound that NASA seems to prefer when naming things. The goal of the rover is to help future missions to other planets overcome weight constraints by mining the surface of the planet for resources like water, oxygen, and rocket fuel components.

The idea is that rovers like RASSOR could be sent ahead to the surface of an alien world to mine for these resources and rather than NASA having to send shipments of fuel, water, and oxygen to the planet ahead of a manned mission. The rover could simply go first and work stockpiling these necessary ingredients for human life.

Harvesting the resources on the surface of the planet would mean significantly less costly manned missions to other planets, such as Mars. RASSOR has drums rather than wheels that rotate and on that drum are digging buckets that rotate in opposite directions. This allows the rover to excavate surface soil and create traction for mobility.

The video below shows RASSOR working with MARCO POLO/Mars Pathfinder to gather soil and place it into an oven for processing. Back in 2013, a technologist working on RASSOR said of the rover, "This is not your typical NASA rover with lots of very sophisticated instruments on it that are quite fragile. This is actually a very tough little robot. It can dig, it can climb, it can flip over. If it does flip over, it can right itself up again."

RASSOR will travel five times faster than Curiosity and spend 16-hours a day working for years at a time. It also has the ability to haul 40 pounds of surface soil back for processing on each trip. RASSOR is specifically designed and built to help future manned missions to Mars and other planets live off the land.

SOURCE: Motherboard