Japan will send a Baseball-Changing Robot to the Moon

Description for the article titled Japan Sends This Subtle Robo-Ball Transformation Straight to the Moon

graphic: JAXA / TOMY Company / Sony / Doshisha University

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has partnered with Sony, Doshisha University, and player Tomy to ship an evolving rover almost the size of a baseball to the Moon. What time to live, amirite?

And this little bot has a big responsibility: It will gather comprehensive data about the lunar phase so that the JAXA crewed rover, is scheduled to launch 2029, get around. To further develop the technology-independent driving and navigation technology that the rover will use to navigate it, JAXA will need to study the potential gravitational effects of the Moon, which is one-sixth of the Earth, and the layer of regolith, aka Moon dirt, that covers its surface, the agency said in a advertisement this week first seen on The Byte.

The “ultra-compact and ultra-lightweight robot” measures approximately 3.1 inches (80 mm) in diameter and weighs about half a pound (250 g). It will board a lunar lander from the Japanese ispace company, where it will start traveling as a compact ball and then open its “running form” arrival of the Moon surface.

“As the robot travels over the moon, regolith behavioral images, and lunar surface images taken by the robot and the lunar lander camera will be sent to the mission control center via the lunar lander,” he said. JAXA.

JAXA has been working on the bot since 2016 with Tomy, the Japanese toy maker behind Transformers and Beyblades. Sony (who knows a thing or two about surrounding robots) signed the project in 2019 and provided the robot control system, while Doshisha University joined in 2021 and helped Tomy downsize its overall design.

“Since [company’s] foundation, we make toys with safe and reliable quality, a sense of skill in paying attention to details, renewed imagination, and above all, a strong will to make children smile, ” as Tomy CEO and chairman Kantaro Tomiyama said in a JAXA press release. . “I really hope to use this time to explore space and make kids more interested in natural science including space.”

The small robo-ball could be headed to the Moon in 2022. Due to its compact design and versatility, it is “expected to also play an active role in future lunar exploration missions,” JAXA said. Come on, lil dude.

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