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NASA Unleashes Its 700-Pound, Autonomous 'Mighty Eagle' Robotic Lander


"...expand our capabilities to go to other destinations."

On Tuesday NASA reported the first successful untethered flight of its prototype robotic lander as it researches technology that would be used to land autonomously on in airless environment like the moon or an asteroid.

According to NASA's release the 4-by-8-foot and 700-pound "Mighty Eagle" is pre-programmed with a flight profile to achieve autonomous landing from an onboard computer activating its thrusters. The three-legged lander is also reported to be "green" as it is fueled by 90 percent pure hydrogen peroxide.

Watch its 34-second flight were it hovers 30 feet above the ground, moves to a prescribed location and lands:

The lander was last tested in 2011 and has since had updates made to its camera to improve landing capabilities. This first successful test in 2012 kicks off a series of tests through September where the lander will demonstrate hovering at 30 feet, 100 feet, moving sideways and landing a 30-foot distance from its launch pad.

"These lander tests provide the data necessary to expand our capabilities to go to other destinations," Dr. Greg Chavers, engineering manager and warm gas test article lead at the Marshall Center, said according to NASA's press release. "It also furthers our knowledge of the engineering components needed for future human and robotic missions."

NASA states that Mighty Eagle will "mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals throughout the solar system."

(H/T: Business Insider)

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