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Exploding Robots May Scout Hazardous Asteroids 120

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the things-that-asplode dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention NewScientist is reporting that a small force of robots designed to explode could help reveal an asteroid's inner structure. This could in turn allow scientists a better understanding of how to divert a rogue asteroid on a collision course with Earth. From the article: "The main spacecraft would stay a few dozen kilometers away, perhaps nudging the probes towards the asteroid using springs. Once on the surface, the protective spherical shell of each probe would open to allow the probe to scan the surface nearby. To reduce complexity and costs, the probes lack solar panels and run on battery power, limiting their lifetime to a few days. But each probe could still cover a lot of ground in that time, as they could be fitted with small thrusters to let them hop across the surface. Eventually the probes could detonate onboard explosives, sacrificing themselves for science one by one. Probes that had not yet detonated would listen for any seismic waves sent rippling out from the explosion, and the main spacecraft could observe the craters left behind. That would tell scientists about the asteroid's strength and internal structure."
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Exploding Robots May Scout Hazardous Asteroids

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  • by Tablizer (95088)
    Exploration by destruction. If that is not a Bush Administration approach to space exploration, I don't know what is :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by creimer (824291)
      Funny... I thought Sony found a new market for their exploding laptop batteries.
    • Quiet you fool, you keep it up and the State of the Union will be filled with "If we don't destroy those meteors, then the terrorists have won".

      Hell, all we really have to do is scare away these things. Think of it: if we turn our satellites up towards the impending rock of doom, and broadcast our horrible earth waves to it, it'll run in fear. It's not gonna take long until it can't stand being transmitted Windows Updates in it's general direction before it turns and warns the rest of the galaxy to evad
    • by DrYak (748999)
      If that is not a Bush Administration approach to space exploration, I don't know what is :-)

      Simple : It's a...
      BruceWillisBot (TM) !
       
      special "Armagedon (TM)" Edition. (Although no announcement has been made yet, if the CD deck playing Aerosmith will be optionnal)
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@NospaM.yahoo.com> on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:08PM (#17712950) Journal
    What with all the exploding robots exploring them, of course they're going to be a bit hazardous.
  • by Suffering Bastard (194752) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:10PM (#17712984)
    Oh great, we're about to start pissing off asteroids by blowing up their kin. OF COURSE they're going to come falling on us, if for no other reason than retaliation.

    Watch for attacking asteroid clusters, armed to the teeth with lasers and nuclear bombs!

    ha ha, just kidding...asteroids don't have teeth.
    • Looks like NASA is getting into the habit of blowing up its enemies, too. It'll be just like Iraq all over again!
  • I for one... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by guruevi (827432)
    welcome our new asteroid-hopping self-destructive explorer robots. I hope they asplode before they turn against us.
  • by Half a dent (952274) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:14PM (#17713048)
    "Let there be light"
  • OMG ROLLERMINES

    that is all.

  • Actually, I bet this is going to give them some really good PR. Sound science, new territory, and explosions.

    The so-called 'news' people may actually run a story like this, getting average people into space again, which has done so much for scientific research as a whole.

    Now, what celebrity could we also send there.... and blow up?
  • In Deep Impact [wikipedia.org] NASA sent a manned mission to nuke a killer comet.

    Sounds like a perfect job for robots.
    • by ray-auch (454705)
      I think you missed the bit about it being a film.

      Robots are distinctly non-perfect for that. Consider the diaglogue:

      90mins of "beep... beep.... beep...." followed by "bang".

      Except you don't even get to hear that because the robot ship doesn't need any air in which to make a sound...

      I suppose you could focus on the ground action - 90mins of some guy pacing backwards and fowards muttering "metric, imperial, metric, imperial, fuck which was it?...".

  • by ReidMaynard (161608) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:18PM (#17713100) Homepage
    NASA announces the hiring of Wile E. Coyote to a Senior Staff position....
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:19PM (#17713130) Journal
    Will these explorer androids be launched by the JSA? Jihad Space Agency?
  • 'Small and Cheap' (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Normal Dan (1053064)
    Sometimes I wonder what they mean by cheap. I suppose they mean cheap in comparison to other robots they could send. Either way, I do find this a bit exciting. It might lead to some interesting discoveries. Who knows, we could soon by mining these asteroids some day and all these experiments will pay for themselves. Then again, with all the budget cuts NASA has been taking these days, I wonder if these small and cheap robots will even get off the ground. I suppose only time will tell.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:25PM (#17713212)
    "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."
  • "Aliens attacked earth today after encountering our army of exploding robots and interpreting them as an act of war. News at 10."
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:27PM (#17713244) Homepage
    Bite my shiny metal ass!
  • by Not_Wiggins (686627) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:27PM (#17713252) Journal
    With the proliferation of people willing to strap bombs to their chests in order to "make the world better," it would certainly be easier (and cheaper) to recruit people who already know how to walk to a location and self-detonate than to spend it on "high tech" solutions.

    I can see the ad campaign now:

    "Tired of being labeled a terrorist? Why not join the new Space Explorers Club and really help humanity! Visitation with Allah guaranteed after mission! Sign up today!"

    Then research funds could be freed up to build robotic solutions the world REALLY want... sex bots! Woo!

    (For the humor impaired, insert tongue into cheek and re-read. ;) )
    • Then research funds could be freed up to build robotic solutions the world REALLY want... sex bots! Woo!

      The last thing I need is an exploding sex bot, thanks.
  • This is a job for Agatha Hetrodyne [girlgeniusonline.com]

  • Call it a quagmire and the media will be all over it....

    Any PR = good PR.
  • He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
    • by d3ac0n (715594)
      Gandalf was obviously NOT a geek.
  • Hey Baby, (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I build exploding space robots for a living.
    Now there's a pickup line...
  • Stupid Plan (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you are making robots capable of moving around and blowing up, why not make them lay the explosive and then back away to a safe spot? The robot could lay multiple bombs and never be destroyed. Why throw away good robotics?

    • You could drop a bomb then run away, but you would soon run out of power and have a useless robot anyway. If you really want to save the robot, you would need to add solar panels. You would also have to include a mechanism for dropping the bombs. You would also need to redesign the robots to withstand the wear and tear of space. Then you must think about the scientific benefit of having a robot on an asteroid you've already studied. In the end, it's far cheaper and efficient to just build and exploding
  • Armageddon (Score:3, Funny)

    by writerjosh (862522) on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:39PM (#17713410) Homepage
    Send Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck up there again. They're cheap and expendable. Plus they're not doing any good down here.
  • I just hope the probes can reach the surface of the comet at all.
    It may unexpectedly detonate before [thunderbolts.info] it even reaches the surface.

    IMarv
  • Robot Lemmings!
  • BOOOOM!

    Beezbot. This is Robot 35. Robot W34 detonated - Boop beep bop. Composition of asteroid is rock

    This is Commander Robot. Robot W35 please detonate

    This is W35. Why?

    This is Commander Robot. We need to determine composition of asteroid

    BOOOOM!

    Beezbot. This is Robot 36. Robot W35 detonated - Boop beep bop. Composition of asteroid is rock

    ...

  • Remote control sharks [slashdot.org] or exploding robots... remote control sharks... exploding robots... Argh!
  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:50PM (#17713544)
    Are the suicidal robots being misinformed about 72 virgin robots awaiting them?
    • Are the suicidal robots being misinformed about 72 virgin robots awaiting them?

      no, but, can you imagine the new nasa press releases;

      KSC, FLORIDA - In a bold initiative against rogue asteroids ordered by the Bush administration, NASA engineers have announced today that 3 asteroid probes have suceesfully completed their martydom operations. Each probe's sacrifice against the Trojans has brought the jihad to new levels and liberated us from the threat of these wandering interstellar crusaders in a series of pre-emptive strikes designed to provide security to the American peoples and bri

  • All funnin' aside, this does advance science quite a bit. I'm happy to see the "science bombs" properly specced out as disposable tech rather than the live-forever approach NASA typically produces (Go rovers!)

    Plus, I'm all for having an OTS weapon system for targets within the solar system. But I blame that on my recent reading list. Curse you John Ringo! Curse you, your Posleen and Von Neumann probes all to hell!

  • by xENoLocO (773565) * on Monday January 22, 2007 @02:52PM (#17713584) Homepage
    ... kind of reads like a test sentence for a font.

    "Exploding Robots May Scout Hazardous Asteroids" ..

    "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."
    • Well, except for the missing F, J, K, Q, and V.

      Take a look a the number of letters of the alphabet that are in "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

      • Ok, then.

        "Exploding Robots May Scout Fjqvking Hazardous Asteroids"

        Makes at least as much sense as "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz."
  • The most famous exploding robot I know is rocket car magnate Malfunctioning Eddie. [wikipedia.org] "Hi I'm Malfunctioning Eddie, and I'm malfunctioning so badly, I'm practically giving these cars away."
  • by mchale (104743)
    I can just picture the NASA folks controlling the robots with an interface based off of Lemmings.
  • The exploding robots are part of a Japanese Supervillians group of henchmen, who, as many are aware, always explode spectacularly when hit in just the right way.

  • To reduce complexity and costs, the probes lack solar panels and run on battery power

    Batteries will reduce costs even further, igniting the increasing power of explosions, as seen on laptops :)

  • When these giant masses hurl toward Earth, would the exploding robots help us to more fully understand Juffo-Wup?
  • It is now time for the robot on top of your asteroid to explode.
  • To reduce complexity and costs, the probes lack solar panels and run on battery power, limiting their lifetime to a few days. [...] Eventually the probes could detonate onboard explosives, sacrificing themselves for science one by one.

    Seeing the possibility for further profit, Sony has opened an Aeronautical division within the company. The Aeronautical division is planning to take all recalled Sony laptop batteries and sell them NASA, thereby nabbing two birds with one stone. The only potential problem, ac

  • Probes that had not yet detonated would listen for any seismic waves sent rippling out from the explosion,

    So the last probe will sacrifice itself for nothing?

    • by DeadboltX (751907)
      The probes run on battery power so they only last a few days.
      If you were the last remaining robot on a lone desolate asteroid would you rather wait out your final hours, dying and withering away while your battery fades.. or would you rather go out with a bang and make it a quick painless death?
  • Probes do not have to self destruct by design!

    But I guess this will be useful if Aliens discover them. Of course they will be mad as hell at us when they give the probe to their kid to play with and it gets its tentacles blown off!
  • "An Imperial Probe droid. Couldn't have hit it that hard, must have self-destructed." -ObHanSolo
  • "I am fluent in six million forms of communication. This signal is not used by the Alliance. It could be an Imperial code."
  • This is a waist of time and resources.

    At the most, they find out what that meteaor is made out of, and they plan to use that to speculate what others are made up from.

    Not all are the same. They could be from different planets/moons, or even parts (think core vs crust on earth).

    Rather than figure out what the one they are testing is made of, we should look into ways to change the orbit/destroy meators regaurdless of their composition.

    An early detection system with multiple ways to move it and destroy them.
    • by Grave (8234)

      This is a waist of time and resources.


      Apparently, so are spelling lessons.
  • "Let's try this thing out on _that_ asteroid...it's not headed for earth."
    (BOOOM)
    "OK, now run your calculations on the trajectories of the fragments."
    "Uh oh...."
  • Hmm, an exploding device that runs on battery power. Where have I head that before?

    Glad they found some constructive use for the Sony battery recall after all.
  • They could send them to Uranus.

    (sorry)
  • The main spacecraft would stay a few dozen kilometers away, perhaps nudging the probes towards the asteroid using springs.

    WTF? How would the mother ship use springs to "nudge" the probe if it's dozens of kilometers away? Does this make any sense at all?
  • Are they being built by Dells laptop division?
  • Low Energy Metal Minion Incinerating New Grounds.
  • ... Super Happy Fun Probe

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