Mount Etna will be dealing with a new set of visitors as German scientists began testing lunar space robots on the surface of the volcano. The aim of these tests will be to provide useful technical data on seismic movements. These could prove useful in future missions in space.
Lunar Space Robots, a Further Tie between Etna and Space
The lunar space robots are deployed by the German Aerospace Center, who runs the German space program. This enlisted the help of experts from the United States, Great Britain, and Italy, besides the German scientists themselves. All of them are researching the Robotic Exploration of Extreme Environments (ROBEX).
ROBEX is looking to advance and improve the development of robotic equipment that will be used in future space missions.
“This is aimed at simulating a future, hypothetical landing mission on the moon or Mars and they use a lot of robots which are there to transport and install different instruments,” stated Boris Behncke.
He is a volcanologist part of the National Volcanology Institute in Italy. Mount Etna is located on the Italian island of Sicily. It presents a seismic activity similar to that believed to be taking place on the Moon, Earth’s natural satellite.
By studying the volcano, the researchers hope to gain further insight on the seismic activity of other space bodies. All the technical data and techniques learned on Etna will ‘hopefully’ be applicable on the Moon as well. They could also come to be used in Mars missions.
The lunar space robots’ initial testing phase was carried out in the Piano del Lago region of the volcano. This is characterized as being a desolate stretch of terrain, one battered by high winds.
Besides these robots, the research team will also be looking to deploy a network of equipment which will include drones and rover robots. Their aim will be the same: that of gathering seismic data, one similar to what may be encountered on the Moon.
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