A robot deployed in Antarctica to look for meteorites has returned in triumph. Nomad, a joint project sponsored by the Robotic Institute of Carnegie-Mellon and NASA's Space Telerobotics Program (bet you didn't know they had one), set out on its own to look for space rocks stuck in ice and came back with three of them. Scientists hope Nomad's success bodes well for robotic exploration of other planets. You know what they say about Antarctica: if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
Nomad is unquestionably the most successful attempt at robotic exploration ever attempted. Looking something like a driverless dune buggy, Nomad weighs 1,200 pounds and measures 2.4 meters square. It's built around a chassis that mechanically changes shape to conform to the demands of the landscape, and each of its studded, snow-tired wheels has an independent motor. It's powered by a gasoline generator and makes a top speed of .5 meters per second.