astroengine writes "Mars has been visited by orbiters, landers and rovers, but could the future of Martian exploration be inspired by a wind-blown sphere? NASA and other research institutions have been developing the Mars Tumbleweed rover for the last decade, but with the help of the Planetary Science Institute, the Tumbleweed is now vying for some serious funding to further develop the technologies required. Although the Tumbleweed would be wholly dependent on the prevailing winds on the Martian surface, the lightweight and relatively cheap design could lead the way for a 'swarm' of independent Tumbleweeds to explore vast regions of the planet (video link). In 2003 and 2004, NASA even tested an inflatable Tumbleweed prototype on Greenland and Antarctica — it traversed hundreds of miles with ease, continually relaying location and environmental data."
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