Despite the fact that humanity already has one active rover (note: we had two), a planetary orbiter and a super rover being built to unlock more Martian mysteries, the truth is that we still understand very little about the red planet’s surface.
While sending flesh and blood to explore the red planet would go a long ways to demystifying Mars, due to the tight budget it might be wiser to instead send cheap bouncing robots.
It has been suggested during the Mars cave exploration programme, that an effective way to explore a larger surface area would be the use of many, small and fully autonomous robots. […]
The simulation results show that 50 swarm robots can cover an area of over 300 meters square completely in 5 sols while they are searching for cave entrances and returning results to the Lander which is a major performance improvement on any previous mission. Furthermore areas of interests found by the explorers are sorted in order of importance automatically and without the need of computational analysis, hence larger quantities of data were collected from the more important areas. Therefore the system – just like a hive of bees – can make a complex decision easily and quickly to find the place which matches the required criteria best. (Science Direct)
As seen in the video above, the bouncing, rolling robots would have yet another advantage over their rover brethren as they would not only be able to bounce their way around rocks, but could also be sent to explore craters as well (instead of merely gazing into them).
The only “flaw” with the robot swarm idea is the fact that the swarm has to report back to the Lander, which may prove difficult if a high number become lost while exploring the crimson world.
It might be wiser for the roving red warriors to instead transmit data on site to the lander via radio waves (or to a satellite orbiting above), which would relieve the robots from having to double back after making a long journey.
(Hat Tip: Physorg.com)