NASA’s Sensing With Independent Micro-Swimmers (SWIM) robots, designed by Ethan Schaler, could one day be used to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa and other worlds as well like Ganymede. SWIM would be much smaller than previous planetary ocean exploration robots, which enables them to be easily loaded compactly into an ice probe.
Since a number of them can be loaded into a single ice probe, these robots may increase the likelihood of detecting evidence of life while assessing potential habitability on a distant ocean-bearing celestial body. More specifically, the wedge-shaped robots each measure about 5 inches (12 centimeters) long and about 3 to 5 cubic inches (60 to 75 cubic centimeters) in volume.
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My idea is, where can we take miniaturized robotics and apply them in interesting new ways for exploring our solar system? With a swarm of small swimming robots, we are able to explore a much larger volume of ocean water and improve our measurements by having multiple robots collecting data in the same area,” said Ethan Schaler, a robotics mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.