NASA Steam Hopping Robot Icy Moon Europa
NASA’s JPL is currently exploring an innovative robotic concept called SPARROW (Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds) that would would use steam propulsion to hop across of icy terrains like that on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This moon is speculated to have massive subsurface oceans of salty water under a thick ice crust.



Roughly the size of a soccer ball, SPARROW consists thrusters, avionics and instruments encased in a protective spherical cage. The reason why it doesn’t run not on rocket fuel, but rather steam produced from melted ice, is to keep the environment pristine. It travels primarily through the air with short thrusts, which comes in handy when navigating Europa’s low-gravity environment, since there would be no atmospheric drag to slow the robot down.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Solar Model Kit – Build 2 Solar Powered Wooden 3D Puzzle Models of Real NASA Space Explorers, Craft Kits are a Perfect Gift for Girls and Boys, an AMAZON EXCLUSIVE Science Kit
895 Reviews
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Solar Model Kit – Build 2 Solar Powered Wooden 3D Puzzle Models of Real NASA Space Explorers, Craft Kits are a Perfect Gift for Girls and Boys, an AMAZON EXCLUSIVE Science Kit
  • POWERED BY THE SUN - Solar panels included in the model kit powers the moon buggy and Mars rover, making them move when in direct sunlight. This great STEM activity emphasizes fun, exploration, and discovery!
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED - Laser-cut wooden components, easy-to-follow instructions, solar panels, sandpaper, and learning guides with interesting facts about the Moon, Mars, and outer space. No need for special tools.
  • GREAT FOR KIDS AND ADULTS - The solar-powered moon buggy and Mars rover are fantastic for kids and adults with an interest in Engineering, Model-building, and space exploration. National Geographic educational toys provide fun and engaging learning opportunities for young explorers.
  • ENCOURAGES CRITICAL THINKING - 3D lunar vehicle and Mars rover model kits engage critical thinking skills in kids during construction. Makes an excellent STEM gift for girls and boys!
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED – The National Geographic STEM series provides kids high-quality educational toys that are a whole lot of fun! If your experience is anything less than extraordinary, let us know so we can make it right for you.

The terrain on Europa is likely highly complex. It could be porous, it might be riddled with crevasses, there might be meters-high penitentes [long blades of ice which could be dangerous to ground-based vehicles] that would stop most robots in their tracks. But SPARROW has total terrain agnosticism; it has complete freedom to travel across an otherwise inhospitable terrain,” said Gareth Meirion-Griffith, JPL roboticist and the lead researcher of the concept.

Author

A technology, gadget and video game enthusiast that loves covering the latest industry news.