A Rover That Tumbles Over Small, Rocky Worlds

A mechanical “hedgehog,” sitting on a comet.

NASA is developing a new class of rovers, which can move across terrains not easily navigable by conventional vehicles.

Probes like the S.U.V-size Curiosity, which have sets of wheels, work well on planets. But on smaller, knobbly objects, such as asteroids and comets, which have very little gravity to hold them down, they’re at risk of floating away or tripping over rugged boulders.

Dubbed the “hedgehog,” the machine, which looks like a spiked cube, is built to hop and tumble across bumpy fields.

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