Artists conceptual view of the SPARROW system operating in-situ near a lander on an Ocean World icy surface.
The SPARROW NIAC Phase I study investigation focuses on the use of propulsive hopping maneuvers over Europa’s broadly uncharacterized surface. Envisioned as a payload to a primary lander mission (such as the Europa lander mission concept shown below), SPARROW would harvest an abundant in-situ resource, water ice, as its propellant. Propulsive hopping eliminates system reliance on terrain topographic and strength assumptions and allows for complete terrain agnosticism. Being able to hop and tumble within a passively-gimballed frame, the SPARROW concept aims to enable rapid traverses to multiple geologic units within a radiation-limited lifespan. This study is being conducted between JPL, Purdue University, and Honeybee Robotics and aims determine SPARROW’s fundamental feasibility in the areas on ISRU-based propulsion, energetics, controllability, and localization.