Robots in space: Navy will send 'bots to build lunar telescope

The United States Naval Research Laboratory and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are fixing to put a telescope on the Moon, placed there by robotic rovers. Called the Dark Ages Lunar Interferometer, the DALI mission is still in its conceptual stages, but the rovers that would be delivered to the moon via lander need to be agile, able to work together, lightweight and multitudinous. Above is one such concept provided by JPL — the insect-like ATHLETE.

The biggest challenge facing the team of rovers? Batteries. The 'bots need to run for long stretches, be able to recharge their power stores and can't use heavy components that would drastically increase the mission payload. Dr. Dayton Jones from JPL told DVICE that the team is tentatively planning to use lithium-ion batteries because of how dense they are for their weight, and how they are projected to perform in 10 years when the mission takes place.

Click Continue to check out a couple of 'bots hanging out together on a dune, and for more information behind the DALI mission.

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The Dark Ages Lunar Interferometer is part of the newly launched Decadal Survey, which is an effort by astronomers, other scientists and engineers to try and achieve a scientific milestone every ten years. The DALI mission is one such milestone.

We talked to Dr. Joseph Lazio, the project leader at the Naval Research Laboratory, and he told us that very little of what is planned is doable with today's technology. Such is the nature of the Decadal Survey: The projects proposed include goals which will force the researchers involved to improve existing technologies, come up with new ways of doing things and understand new concepts.

US Naval Research Lab, via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, via EurekAlert!