NASA plans to send swimming robots to look for life on distant worlds

NASA's tiny robots would be embedded in a probe sent to melt ice.  Photo: Disclosure/NASA.

NASA’s tiny robots would be embedded in a probe sent to melt ice. Photo: Disclosure/NASA.

  • NASA has revealed plans to create robots that can find aliens in the oceans of other planets and celestial bodies;

  • A space agency team is expected to build a prototype of the robots within the next two years;

  • The tiny robots would be embedded in a probe sent to melt ice.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced last week that it has plans to launch an arsenal of swimming mini-robots to scour oceans on other planets and celestial bodies and look for alien life.

The project was named SWIM (Sensing With Independent Micro-Swimmers).

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“Where can we take miniaturized robotics and apply it in new and exciting ways to explore our solar system?” asked NASA mechanical engineer Ethan Schaler.

“With a swarm of small swimming robots, we can explore a much larger volume of ocean water and improve our measurements with multiple robots collecting data in the same area,” he continued.

The small robots would be embedded in a probe to melt the necessary ice, drilling through such thick layers in planets and celestial bodies that would be possibly habitable but incapable of sustaining life, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s Encedalus.

The space agency provided a budget of US$ 600,000 for the initiative, around R$ 3.2 million at the current price, to analyze the feasibility and design of the project. NASA expects a 3D-printed prototype of the robots within the next two years.

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