Meet NASA's robot destined to mine Martian soil

The Curiosity rover could get some (much needed) company.

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It looks like the Curiosity rover won't be the only craft exploring Mars. NASA recently released a video of its latest Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot prototype going through its paces in a test facility. "RASSOR uses counterrotating bucket drums on opposing arms to provide near-zero horizontal and minimal vertical net reaction force so that excavation is not reliant on the traction or weight of the mobility system to provide a reaction force to counteract the excavation force in low-gravity environments," NASA writes.

Simply put, this should make excavation on alien planets easier because the device can work without needing high amounts of traction to stay in place while performing its task. It looks like flipping over and becoming inoperable shouldn't be an issue either, based on the proven design. Popular Mechanics suggests that a whole slew of these will be sent ahead of any Martian colonists as a way of prepping the landing pad, so to speak.

And, hopefully it'll keep Curiosity company. Based on the rover's formerly funny Twitter feed, isolation is getting the best of the trigger-happy spacecraft's sanity.