December 27, 2021 09:54 GMT
The vehicle could in the future fly at higher altitudes and be used on space missions to the moon and asteroids, its creators suggest.
Aeronautical Engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) they designed A “Back to the Future” floating vehicle that can be used to explore the moon, asteroids and other planetary surfaces without air.
Earth’s natural satellite lacks an atmosphere, meaning that through direct exposure to the sun and surrounding plasma, it can generate an electric field strong enough for dust particles to float more than one meter from Earth.
However, for a “flying board” to float on the surface of the Moon, an additional charge of energy would be required to counteract the gravitational forces of attraction.
For this reason, this rover, which resembles a disc-shaped flying saucer, is equipped with miniature ion thrusters to generate a relatively large repulsive force between the vehicle and the ground.
MIT scientists conducted a laboratory test and the results obtained were consistent with those expected. “In principle, with better modeling, we can scale to much higher altitudes,” the project’s lead author, Oliver Jia Richards, predicted.
In Symphony, Paolo Lozano, co-author of the paper, noted that future missions to the moon and asteroids could deploy rovers that use ion thrusters to float and maneuver safely over unknown and irregular terrain.
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