Gullies on Mars?
A gully is a landform created by running water, eroding sharply into soil, typically on a hillside. Gullies resemble large ditches or small valleys, but are metres to tens of metres in depth and width.
Water were long discovered on Mars. Though, they may not be on liquid form and not in large quantity as well. It exists as ice and could be in minute amount as vapor.
This is a very trivial question and it need due answer. When exploring a distant planet, looking for signs of life. . . or, if it once supports life is the goal. Various space faring countries and agencies have all been racing to find answers. NASA have sent multiple missions just to find the answers
Though, land features such as gullies are prominent on the Martian surface suggesting water flows. These features are found on craters in a steep slope. What appeared to be seasonal outflows of liquid water dark features known as recurring slope lineae – heightened interest in using robots to take samples. This features are mostly in 30 degree slope which is too steep for Mars 2020 Perseverance and other conventional rovers. Traversing such steep and rocky features requires a different kind of mobility.
A transforming rover
NASA JPL had been active exploring flexibility of future rovers comes to challenging terrain. Introducing DuAxel (in short for “dual-axel”).
The Axel Rover System is not a new concept. It’s been researched since 2009. It’s a very basic concept aimed for providing versatile mobility for scientific access and human-oriented exploration of planetary surfaces in the solar system…( I’m making sure capturing that properly).
Such application will be very useful in traversing challenging terrains on Mars. With the limitation of conventional rovers, this two-wheeled rover will enable future missions in accessing steep surface and conducts study that no conventional rovers can.
In a tethered approach, it extends conventional rover’s reach. But, this could be a complex configuration. It may occupy larger space in the rover’s body with the provision more for the tether. At what length, that’s a variable and rappeling in Martian slopes would surely requires more.
As mentioned earlier, Axel is part of decade long prototype/concept. Proven to be effective. With the goal of eliminating the constraints of steep slopes while attaining mobility on uncharted terrains. DuAxel is a perfect representation in overcoming those handicaps.
Designed to be scalable, the modular configuration could be even extended to a “caterpillar” system. Imagine a number of Axels configured to house multiple science equipment trekking the surface of Mars with unlimited constraints. . Just not do swim of course. . . and what do you know, those wheels could be equipped with, or transform to, impellers. . .
From concept to implementation
Another way in looking those small steps we have took and about to take. We may have a long way to go in the pursuit of unraveling those unanswered questions. Humans are bound to explore Mars. Our resolve towards innovation will be the key in driving those imagination to reality. We are not bound by time and we should take every seconds as an opportunity to spark ideas. We should strive to encourage and inspire future generations. In so doing,we dissolve the factor of time and trail blaze our selves to the future where we are truly space explorers.
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