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MIGHT SNAKE ROBOTS READY THE MOON FOR HUMAN SETTLEMENT?
When scanning the moon as a potential destination for human settlement — or, at the very least, interstellar travel expeditions — the agency is homing in on lava tubes, which are molten rock tunnels where lava once flowed. Since the moon is not sheltered from the sun’s radiation like the Earth, people hanging out on the lunar surface for an extended period must stay underground — and these tunnels could be a cheaper alternative to constructing habitation modules buried in the ground. Good news, until you realize that inspecting these tunnels for habitable areas would be too dangerous for astronauts and too small for rovers. But Norwegian researchers have come up with a possible solution: snake robots that can maneuver through, in and around these lunar crevices.
...These AI-powered creatures could land on the moon, rappel down a tether line or be lowered by a crane into lava tubes and then weasel their way in and out until they find the most pristine spots for human settlement, according to Norwegian research company SINTEF. Aksel Transeth, senior scientist for SINTEF, says these slithering robots would be packed with sensors, including a camera and laser, as well as tools, such as a mechanism for retrieving soil samples for further analysis. Inspired by SINTEF’s Anna Konda, a self-propelling firefighting snake robot that’s essentially a mobile water hose, these snakes could explore the moon’s lava tubes to identify areas that are most suitable for protecting settlers from harmful exposure to cosmic radiation and meteorites.