March 10th, 2004

Mars mission draws budget fire EE Times

President George Bush’s ambitious space exploration initiative is getting mixed reviews in Congress as lawmakers sifting through details of a NASA spending plan question how to pay for a program that could cost between $30 million and $55 billion in its initial phase.

February 20th, 2004

The trouble with Rover is revealed EE Times

When the Mars rover Spirit went dark on Jan.21 a Jet Propulsion Laboratory team undertook to reprogram the craft’s computer only to find themselves introducing an unpredictable sequences of events. The trouble with the Mars rover Spirit started much earlier in the mission than the day the craft stopped communicating with ground controllers.

January 14th, 2003

NASA recruits robotics, sensors for Mars Scout mission EE Times

NASA has moved up the deadline for submission of the “final four” proposals for its planned Mars Scout mission. The four finalists are now expected to submit their designs for remote exploration systems, blending advanced robotics with lab-on-chip technology, by May 15 instead of July. The finalists have each been given an extra $100,000, on top of the $500,000 already promised, to get their designs and feasibility studies in to the agency by the new deadline. NASA has set aside $325 million to build the winning system for a Scout mission to Mars in 2007.

January 22nd, 2002

Flying robotic insect slated to explore Mars EE Times

Motivated by the notion that the Mars landscape may prove easier to navigate by air than with ground-based rovers, NASA is backing a research project to build toy-sized flying robots, modeled on the entomology of insects, that can hover like helicopters. Patented as “entomopters,” the robots are on the drawing board of University of Missouri professor Kakkattukuzhy Isaac. “We are looking mainly at the dragonfly, the hummingbird and the fruit fly, but we are not trying to mimic one particular insect,” said Isaac, who is assisted on the project by graduate student Pavan Shivaram. “Instead we are identifying the principles that enable insects to create such high lift, which is still not completely understood. That is our main task.”