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NASA to Use Honey Bees to Explore Mars… Sort Of

April 19, 2020

NASA plans on using honey bees to help explore the climate and surface of MARS. Well, honey bees with a very interesting twist.

Honey Bees

What is there beyond earth? Are there other forms of life out there that we have yet to learn about? Could there possibly be life on Mars or beyond? That is something NASA is about to try to find out and honey bees are going to have a part in it… sort of.

We do know that people cannot breathe on their own on Mars, so how can honey bees survive you ask? Well, NASA has decided to explore the climate on Mars and it is going to use robotic honey bees to complete the task. This will give NASA the ability to scan the entire planet from a recently raised meanderer on the planet. Once the robotic honey bees are released, they will scan for air tests as well as regularly scanning the surface of Mars for other life forms.

Why choose robotic honey bees? It all comes down to funding. To launch a vehicle on the surface of Mars, it would cost millions and millions of dollars in funding to create a vehicle to handle such a task. Rather than devote such funding to one vehicle, NASA will instead be able to launch a swarm of honey bees that will be able to cover more distance, far more quickly, as well as being less expensive.

There also seems to be the idea of being able to reuse the robots rather than simply building a vehicle that is left behind at the end of the mission. Because of the size of the robotic honey bees, they can be stored and sent to the next planet when it comes time to explore again. Researchers are also more familiar with the framework of using this type of “vehicle” for exploration rather than other forms.

If this is successful, we can probably expect to see more aggressive research in creating a robotic honey bee here on earth for pollination. Researchers are already experimenting with robotic bees solely on pollination, but the other contributing factors of bees, such as making honey, are not replicated in these experiments, at least not yet.

This, however, does not mean we can simply dismiss the idea of helping our honey bees find their way through these tumultuous times. Honey bees, as you all know, play a significant role in our agriculture world and while some aspects of bee behavior can be replicated, or at least it seems that way, we need bees as they are for all of their contributions to agriculture.

Source: Nation Editions Photo Courtesy of mariagat mariagat via Creative Commons License

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