NASA currently has a rover exploring Mars called Curiosity and it’s not the first rover to explore the red planet. The thing that most of the rovers NASA has sent on exploration missions so far have in common is the wheel. The rovers use wheels to get around the surface of the planet for their exploration.
One of the big challenges that comes with sending rovers to explore planets and their moons further from the Earth, such as Saturn’s moon Titan, is that more space in the spacecraft is required for fuel meaning that rovers can’t be as large as they might be for missions closer to home. NASA is showing off a next generation rover that looks nothing like the rovers we are used to seeing from NASA.
This new rover has no wheels and is made up of a series of rods and cables. The rods and cables are controlled by multiple motors in the tensegrity rover that allows the device to change its shape and get around the surface of a moon or planet by rolling its self around.
One big benefit of a rover of this sort is that it takes very little space to store inside a spacecraft. The tensegrity rovers are also very robust and wouldn’t need parachutes or airbags to prevent them from being destroyed when they are dropped to the surface of the moon or planet they are exploring. The rover could be dropped from 62 miles above the surface of Titan and survive the crash landing without damage.