Japan Is Sending This Tiny Transforming Robo-Ball Straight to the Moon | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Japan Is Sending This Tiny Transforming Robo-Ball Straight to the Moon

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has teamed up with Sony, Doshisha University, and toymaker Tomy to send a transforming rover roughly the size of a baseball to the Moon. What a time to be alive, amirite?

And this little bot has a huge responsibility: It’ll gather comprehensive data about the lunar surface so that JAXA’s crewed rover, set to launch in 2029, can get around. To further develop the autonomous driving technology and cruising technology that the rover will use on its voyage, JAXA needs to study the potential impacts of the Moon’s gravity, which is one-sixth of that on Earth, and the layer of regolith, aka Moon dirt, that covers its surface, the agency said in an announcement this week first spotted by The Byte.

The “ultra-compact and ultra-lightweight robot” will measure approximately 3.1 inches (80 mm) in diameter and weigh about half a pound (250 g). It’ll hitch a ride on a lunar lander from the Japanese company ispace, where it will begin the trip as a compact ball and then pop open into its “running form” after arriving at the Moon’s surface.

“While the robot travels on the lunar surface, images on behavior of the regolith, and images of lunar surface taken by the robot and the camera on the lunar lander will be sent to the mission control center via the lunar lander,” JAXA said.