(CBS Local) — NASA has revealed their plan for the next generation of space exploration. The space agency says it is working on creating a swarm of robot bees that will fly around the surface of Mars.
In a March 30 press release, NASA outlined their proposal for the “Marsbees.” The tiny robots will launch from a new rover dropped on the red planet and then spread out; mapping the terrain, taking air samples, and searching for signs of life.
Scientist Chang-kwon Kang says a team from the U.S. and Japan is working on the technology for the sensor-studded, fast-moving robots. According to NASA, the Marsbees will be able to take advantage of flying around in Mars’ thinner atmosphere and lower gravity.
The Marsbee also will also reportedly make exploring Mars much less expensive than previous missions which have cost the space program up to $2.5 billion to land a car-sized rover on Earth’s neighbor.
“The Marsbee offers many benefits over traditional aerospace systems,” Kang said. “The smaller volume, designed for the interplanetary spacecraft payload configuration, provides much more flexibility. Also, the Marsbee inherently offers more robustness to individual system failures.”
Past Mars missions using ground-based rovers like Pathfinder, Spirit, and Curiosity have only been able to cover a small fraction of the planet before breaking down.