Published On: Sat, Jan 12th, 2019

Scientists Have Built A Steam-Powered Spacecraft That Can Hop Asteroids And Mine Them For Fuel

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3D illustration of a swarm of asteroids in front of the Milky Way galaxy and the sun.

Meet the World Is Not Enough (WINE) spacecraft, a newly developed asteroid explorer that relies not on fuel, but on steam to get around. The probe uses a steam propulsion system to get off the ground and travel from one location to the next — and all it needs is a little bit of water to keep it going.

This ingenious machine is the product of a wonderful collaboration between the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Pasadena-based Honeybee Robotics — and could kick-start a new generation of space probes, reports CNET.

The craft is about the size of a microwave oven and was designed to hop from one space rock to another, while also mining the asteroids for water to replenish its “fuel” reserves. Since asteroids, particularly the carbon-rich ones, are a bountiful source of water — which is bound up as hydrated clay minerals in their composition, explains NASA — WINE is fully equipped to carry on exploring without ever running out of fuel.

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Scientists Have Built A Steam-Powered Spacecraft That Can Hop Asteroids And Mine Them For Fuel