Mount Etna on the east cost of Sicily, Italy, being one of the few active volcanoes on the Earth, is typically a destination for the tourists. However, it recently had unexpected visitors – robotic rovers meant to land on the Moon and Mars in future. German scientists have found out that the area around Mount Etna offers closest environment matching the surface of the moon and have therefore began testing their rovers there.
The German Aerospace Centre, deployed multiple medium-sized robots approximately three foot tall to test variety of functions. The initiative is a part of Robotic Exploration of Extreme Environments aka ROBEX that aims to improve the equipment used in deep space missions. The study and data obtained from testing at Mount Etna will allow the researchers and scientists to plan future lover landings on the Moon and Mars.
These rovers will carry equipment and also install them at the target sites on the distant planets, informed Boris Behncke who is a volcanologist from the National Vulcanology Institute in Catania. The researching team plans to gather data from the depths of the Mount Etna and expect the rovers to send back the data to control centre. This data will give the researchers a good idea about seismic movement.
The team has already completed first phase of their research in the Piano del Lago area of the volcano that typically gets strong winds. The next phase will likely include setting up equipment to study seismic movement to simulate landing on the surface of the Moon.
India’s own team, Team Indus is already in the final phases of sending their rover to the Moon along with four other teams. Perhaps the coming years will witness multiple rover landings on the Moon.