This illustration depicts the Phobos Surveyor mission concept, which would land small, spiky “hedgehog” probes on Mars’ largest moon, Phobos, while a mother ship monitored the landers from nearby. CREDIT: Stanford University

NASA Eyes ‘Hedgehog’ Invasion of Mars Moon Phobos

by Elizabeth Howell, SPACE Contributor
Date: 19 January 2013 Time: 10:35 AM ET

A daring, “Angry Birds”-like NASA mission could bombard a Martian moon with robotic “hedgehog” probes in the next few decades, scientists say.

The space hedgehogs are actually small, spiky, spherical rovers that form part of a novel mission idea called Phobos Surveyor. The rovers would take advantage of the low gravity on the Mars moon Phobos, its sister moon Deimos, or asteroids in the solar system. Engineers have designed the devices to work in concert with a nearby mother ship.

The hedgehogs would work well in the low gravity of the 16-mile-wide (27 kilometers) Phobos, a force 1,000 times weaker than the gravity on Mars itself, where NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity rovers currently explore, said researcher Marco Pavone of Stanford University. Gravity on Mars is about one-third that of the Earth.

Read more: Robotic 'Hedgehogs' Could Explore Mars Moon Phobos | Space.

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