Hopping space robot will help explore asteroids

STORY: This is SpaceHopper

a hopping robot that can explore low-gravity

environments like those on asteroids or moons

(Philip Arm, PhD student, ETH Zurich)

"There are loads of reasons actually to explore small bodies like asteroids or moons. /// We might find traces of origins of life. For example, asteroids or small moons, we might find clues about how our solar system evolved."

"The idea is that locomotion on low-gravity bodies, like asteroids or moons, is quite challenging, especially for classic wheeled-systems. So we had the idea to rather use a hopping robot which can then not only use the legs for hopping, but also to control its attitude while it's hopping, while it's flying, and to have this controlled locomotion in this tricky environment."

Researchers designed SpaceHopper

with three legs to move in any direction

Nine motors allow it to jump large distances

and to control its altitude and landings

"It's basically doing what a cat is doing when a cat is jumping down. So it's using its legs and the inertia of its legs to keep its body upright or try to get its body into a predefined orientation that will then be safe for landing again."