In the distant future, everybody will have a 3D printer and will print out their products directly from places like the Pirate Bays' Physibles collection. NASA too, is interested in 3D printers — and wants to print spacecraft to scour Mars for research data.
The proposed "paper" spacecraft would "basically be a sheet of paper" says NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher Kendra Short. The idea is to print electronic spacecraft that'll flutter across the planet, collecting data along the way.
"Imagine a Mars or an Enceladus (a moon of Saturn) surface network where you bring a carrier spacecraft, or an entry vehicle or something, you open it up and these little pieces of paper basically flutter down to the surface of the planet and do chemical composition measurements, atmospheric measurements -- pressure, density, temperate -- things like that," Short said.
As one of 30 projects that NASA is experimenting with, Short believes we could have fully functional flutter bots probing Mars and even Saturn and Jupiter's atmospheres in as little as ten years.
Short didn't elaborate on how much of a cost savings printing "paper" spacecraft would provide as an alternative to more typical Mars rovers, only saying that it'd be "one or two orders of magnitude higher performance or lower cost."
Great, now we can litter Mars with space junk before we start colonizing the
martians life that we're almost certain .
Via Discovery News