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Tumbling Tumbleweeds

A New Way To Explore The Surface Of Mars

An idea with possibilities. One wonders whether they could combine the tumbleweed probe idea with the airbag design used to land Pathfinder and the upcoming MERs. That is, design a lander which would bounce to the surface like a beach ball, and then be blown around from place to place like the tumbleweed probe.

Also, I’d be a little leery of using a design like that shown in the accompanying images. Assuming that those curved tubes are inflated, it seems likely that one puncture could incapacitate the probe. If the tubes are divided at crossings into individual cells, a puncture would still leave a flat spot which could impede the rolling of the probe.

It’s a neat idea, though, and it’s interesting to imagine a follow-on design more literally modeled on the branched structure of a tumbleweed, with plenty of independent and redundant contact points.

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