Robotic telepresence can provide a safer and cost-effective to explore other worlds, starting with Mars, according to a team of experts. Such technology can become the most efficient way to study the Red Planet in detail, thereby saving astronauts from its perils.
A paper published recently in Science Robotics has talked about a setting, wherein astronauts will hover in the Martian orbit and communicate with robots deployed on the Red Planet’s surface. Thereby, this addresses the challenges that riddle mission planners in their quest to send humans to explore other worlds.
Currently, the teams handling the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers on Mars have to deal with delays in data relays called latencies that can last from 5 to 40 minutes. The process of transmitting data to and fro can take even longer, such as a day or more, if the orbiters that relay the data are not in correct alignment.
“The time delay is likely to dramatically reduce the quality and scientific value of such collaborations in exploring faraway places like Mars,” Kip V. Hodges, a professor at Arizona State University, said in a news release. This is precisely why the American space agency wants to send astronauts to Mars -- but that comes with its own challenges, setbacks and risks.
This dilemma is what the research team, behind the recently published paper, wants to address. The researchers have suggested that a telepresence system would be a safer and cost-effective solution. The process would involve putting astronauts on an orbiting system and operating robots on the Martian surface so that the latency is not delayed more than a fraction of a second.
Moreover, as per the researchers, establishing telepresence systems will play the role of a two-way savior. It will lower the chances of contaminating Martian sites with earthly microbes as well as save astronauts from getting exposed to Martian microbes.