In the classic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel drop bread crumbs as they walk through a treacherous forest so they don’t lose their way. Rovers may one day use a similar trick to traverse other planets without losing their data.
Typically, if a rover permanently loses communication during a mission, all information it has collected is lost. To avoid this, the researchers suggest using a multi-rover system in which a smaller rover piggybacks on a larger “mother rover”. The tiny rover will then venture into any particularly precarious area, such as a cave or lava tube, deploying sensors the size of an AirPods case like bread crumbs.
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The sensors could then communicate with each other via a wireless network and Funnel any collected data back to the mother roverTheoretical physicist Wolfgang Fink and his colleagues proposed on February 11 progress in space research, As a proof of concept, the team built prototype sensors that communicate via Wi-Fi.
Not that the little rover will chase the “bread crumbs” the same way it came. Instead, “we use [the sensors] “For the data to find its way communication-wise from the cave to the mother rover,” says Fink of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The technology could also be useful here on Earth, especially after a natural disaster like an earthquake. A rover with deployed sensors can be sent into debris where it is too dangerous for people to display search and rescue mission ,Sn: 12/3/14,
Bread crumb-like communication networks could allow researchers to “carry out the essence of scientific exploration,” Fink says, by allowing rovers to overcome some of the obstacles posed by difficult terrain. “To get real exciting science, you have to go to exotic places most of the time, to hard-to-get-to places.”