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Rovers Are So Yesterday. It’s Time to Send a Snakebot to Space

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If the boxy Opportunity rover could elicit years of anthropomorphized love and goodwill, then surely Earthlings will warm to the idea of sending a snake-shaped robot to the moon. This robot—the brainchild of students at Northeastern University—is meant to wiggle across difficult terrain, measure water in the pit of craters, and bite its own tail to become a spinning ouroboros tumbling down the side of a lunar cliff. 

NASA’s annual Big Idea Challenge presents a new query each year that’s geared toward an engineering problem the agency needs to solve. In fall 2021, students from universities across the United States set out to design a robot that could survive extreme lunar terrain and send data back to Earth. The winning team, of students from Northeastern’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space club, took home the top prize in November and now hope to turn their winning design into an advanced prototype that could actually be sent to the moon.

Using $180,000 of NASA funds, the students focused on designing a robot that could navigate Shackleton…

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