The machines are being built to work in spite of the thin atmosphere of Mars, or the airless voids of asteroids and the moon. By using a lander spacecraft as a base to replenish batteries and propellants between flights, scientists envision that Extreme Access Flyers will be able to travel to shaded regions of a hard-to-reach crater and pull out soil samples.
Researchers have assembled several models to test aspects of the final machine. One model is a large quad-copter about five feet across with ducted fans. This is about the size of the prototype the team had in mind for a mission in space.