Canada Needs Your Help to Send a Mini Robotic Beaver to Mars
Canada has the answer to the Mars rover we never knew we needed. Tech company Thoth Technology has started a crowdfunding campaign that, if successful, will fund a mission to send a probe to Mars called the "Beaver Rover."
The mission, called Northern Lights, plans to send the rover as well as a lander to Mars in 2018. The rover, which is much smaller than any of the other probes currently taking up residence on the Red Planet, will drill into rocks in order to determine their origin and will also search for biomarker gases such as methane, which will help us ascertain whether life exists on Mars.
It is also much smarter than many of the other rovers, as it will be able to make almost entirely autonomous decisions while it conducts its analysis. Its sensors feed it with information about its surroundings, such as the presence of holes or obstructions, and then a sophisticated algorithm helps Beaver decide on a path of motion. "At each decision point, the rover determines whether to drive forward, [or to] turn right or left slowly or quickly," said principal investigator Ben Quine.
The company has not released the official amount of funding needed for the mission, but the campaign lists $1,100,000 as their goal and the development costs are estimated around $980,000, according to CEO Caroline Roberts. The crowdfunding campaign began on November 4, and will continue until January 3, 2015.
The rover looks a little less like an actual beaver than we'd like, but it's still cute, as Mars rovers go:
[Credit: Thoth Technology]
They are also inviting the public to vote on a landing site on their Indiegogo page. Beaver will recharge its battery using solar power, much like the ultimately ill-fated Philae, so access to sunlight was a deciding factor when they were narrowing it down to the following three possibilities:
The hematite deposits at Aram Chaos:
A frozen lakebed at Kasei Valles:
The "face" on Mars at Cydonia:
This is the most adorable space endeavor we've heard of in a while, but a month into their crowdfunding campaign, they only have 1% of their financial goal. In order to donate to the Northern Lights Beaver Rover mission, click here.