Collectively, our study aims to demonstrate that exploration via controlled mobility in low-gravity environments is technically possible, economically feasible, and would enable a focused, yet compelling set of science objectives aligned with NASA's interests in science and human exploration. Indeed, while controlled mobility in low-gravity environments was identified by the National Research Council in 2012 as one of NASA's high priorities for technology development, it has never been demonstrated in a high-fidelity low-gravity test bed. Hence, this proposal, if successful, would provide a sought-after and currently unavailable capability for small bodies exploration.
This project would allow the systematic and affordable in situ exploration of small Solar System bodies. The exploration of these objects would allow for the evaluation of small bodies' potential for in situ resource utilization in view of future manned missions. The minimalism and motion capabilities of such spacecraft/rover hybrids would allow multi-asset missions where not only specific targets on small bodies' surface could be closely observed, sampled, and cached, but also high-risk, high-payoff measurements could be taken.