SINTEF, an independent research organization in Scandinavia, will work to combine a rover and snake robot for Mars exploration. The researchers envision using the rover to navigate over large distances, after which the snake robot can detach itself and crawl into tight, inaccessible areas.

At the moment, soil samples from Mars are analyzed on board the rover itself, and the results are communicated back to Earth. The ESA, however, also wants to examine options that could allow samples to be returned to Earth. Snake robots could assist with collecting such samples, since they enable access to tight spots that the rovers cannot reach.

The researchers are currently carrying out the concept study. The team must assess whether the snake-robot technology can operate on both Mars and Earth. A more specific proposal will be submitted in December.

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