Zoë (robot)

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Zoë is a solar-powered autonomous robot with sensors able to detect microorganisms and map the distribution of life in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, duplicating tasks that could be used in future exploration of Mars.[1] Zoe is equipped with tools and sensors to search for direct evidence of life beneath the surface of the ground.[2] Zoe significantly aids in research needed to study Mars because it acts as a mobile observer and analyzer of any signs of life in a given location. She collects primary data which will help in understanding conditions present on Mars.[3] This project will verify reliability of autonomous, mobile, and scientifically made robots.[4]

Specifications[edit]

Zoe is a four-wheeled 220 kg rover with dimensions of approximately 2.9m in length, 2.9m in width, and a height of 2m.[5] It achieves a top speed of 1 m/s with a turning radius of 2.5m[6] Zoe carries a 3.5m2 Solar Panel with a maximum power generation of 1600W which allows it to move, activate computers and sensors, and charges the batteries.[7]

Tools and Sensors[edit]

Zoe carries a one-meter long drill on its back. The drill will collect soil samples underground which will then be analyzed by other tools on board. This drill is able to collect soil samples underground with a maximum depth of 80 cm below surface. Zoe carries the Mars Microbeam Raman Spectrometer which is able to identify specific types of minerals in the subsurface. Other instruments include the Bio IV Fluorescence Imager which indicates the amount of natural fluorescence in soil and rocks, and detects chlorophyll-based-life;[8] a sample carousel, which is used to store samples and used to deliver drill shavings to other instruments on-board; a colored-panoramic imager on a tilt unit, which captures high-resolution photographs up to 1mm/pixel resolution; a visible/near infrared Spectrometer, which transforms spectra to visible and near-infrared wavelengths; and includes environmental sensors which are able to detect weather conditions such as the temperature, humidity, wetness, and wind.[9]

Functionality[edit]

  • Solar powered[10]
  • Sensors[11]
  • Avoids rocks and slopes[12]
  • Drives and steers [13]

Life in the Atacama Desert[edit]

Zoe was placed in the driest Desert on earth, the Atacama Desert,[14] which is also considered to be the most lifeless.[15] Research on this habitat did not truly begin until interest rose for NASA’s astrobiology program. With much similar aspects to Mars, the Atacama Desert was proven to be a proper imitation of Mars. With this realization, scientists and researchers are dedicating their time to examine every part of the desert in hopes of finding microbial life.[16]

Expeditions[edit]

In the fall of 2004, a team of scientists accompanied Zoe on a two-month expedition in the Atacama Desert so she wouldn’t “drive off a cliff”[17] Zoe was placed in the Atacama Desert in 2005 for its first field expedition. During its time there, it was able to map out any living organisms.[18] In 2013, Zoe returned to the Desert with a meter-long drill to produce research of any existing microbial life beneath the Desert’s surface.[19]

Team[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Life in the Atacama". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Randall, Karen. "Zoë Robot Returns To Chile's Atacama Desert On NASA Mission To Search For Subsurface Life". Carnegie Mellon, SETI Institute Directing Astrobiology Field Experiment. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Life in the Atacama". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Savage, Donald. "Atacama Rover Helps NASA Learn to Search for Life on Mars". NASA. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Tariq, Malik. "Robot Finds Life in Desert, Mimicking Skills Needed on Mars". TechMedia Network. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Astrobiology". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  10. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Robotics". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Azua-Bustos, Armando (2012). "Microorganisms of the Atacama Desert". Life at the Dry Edge: 2939–2945. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Wettergreen, David. "Life in the Atacama Desert". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Azua-Bustos, Armando (2012). "Microorganisms of the Atacama Desert". Life at the Dry Edge: 2939–2945. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Couzin, Jennifer. "Smart Robot". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Randall, Karen. "Zoë Robot Returns To Chile's Atacama Desert On NASA Mission To Search For Subsurface Life". SETI Institute. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  19. ^ Randall, Karen. "Zoë Robot Returns to Chile's Atacama Desert on NASA Mission To Search for Subsurface Life". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 

Sources[edit]