Sara Berent & Robert Gordon
Exploring Titan's Biochemistry Through the Use of an Innovative Spherical Rover
Planetary rovers are expanding the horizons of our understanding and knowledge of space. They allow us to reach further into the universe to conduct deep-space exploration missions and investigate the biological, meteorological and geological properties of distant destinations. This article combines a novel conceptual design of a spherical planetary rover, the Armadillo Rover, with a literature review of its investigative capabilities and their scientific potential. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is used as a theoretical mission destination in this paper, due to evidence for its incredibly potent organic chemistry and unexplained atmospheric events that, upon closer examination, might reveal signs of extra-terrestrial life. The Armadillo Rover contains many of the highly desirable qualities associated with space system design, such as being light weight, robust and energy efficient, and at the same time enabling execution of biochemical and geological research goals set for standard exploration missions. The solutions implemented in this design should be understood as concepts for universal deep-space exploration, with Titan being used as an example through which the abilities of the Armadillo Rover are visualised. This review highlights the importance ofdeep-space exploration for understanding science on Earth. It also suggests an example of technology suitable for fulfilling the agenda designed by space agencies for the upcoming decade, withthe hope that it will one day serve as an inspiration for designing innovative robotic solutions for deep-space exploration missions.