Role of programmable matter in Space exploration

A material whose characteristics can be programmed to accomplish particular shapes or stiffness on command is called programmable matter. Constituent elements must interact and rearrange intelligently. This article is all about the creation of programmable matter sheets that can fold themselves into different shapes on their own.

Many attempts have been made to create transforming machines. Those approaches were limited by small feature sizes, many elements, and the associated complexity of unit communication. There is now a novel concept of self-folding origami with widespread crease patterns. Scientists are hoping to alleviate the previous difficulties by employing this new concept.

What is Programmable Matter?

The concept of programmable matter is based on “simple” customizable matter (complex fluids, met materials, shape-changing molecules, electro-permanent magnets) or approaches based on robotics (self-reconfiguring modular robotics, claytronics, cellular automata, quantum wells, synthetic biology). They have also created a C++-based simulator for developing control strategies that can deal with stochasticity in the production environment.

A Novel Self-folding Origami Concept

Scientists have created a new self-folding origami concept that reduces the complexity of individual elements while being scalable in terms of components’ number and size. They rely on a single sheet with repetitive triangular tiles attached by flexible creases, as opposed to many separate subunits, which may be complicated and challenging to orient correctly. Depending on which pleats fold, in which direction, and in what order, this sheet can fold with a specific crease pattern to create various three-dimensional shapes.

The grey goo scenario is a popularized doomsday prediction for technology such as programmable matter. This is a hypothetical outcome in which nano-scale robots consume all of Earth’s organic matter to perhaps self-replicate or construct some preprogrammed product. While some far-future sci-fi scenarios pose a real risk, it appears that the grey goo scenario is merely science fiction.

Perils of Programmable Matter

Far more concerning is the potential that a large-scale and comfortable manufacturing base could be used to produce massive quantities of potent non-replicating weapons. It could result in a volatile arms race and a devastating war. Policy research into the effects of advanced nanomaterials should prioritize this as a primary concern, with runaway replication as a secondary concern.

Why couldn’t a soldier in combat reach into the paint can and pull out a hammer instead of something much more lethal? Why couldn’t a layperson with access to similar technology create potent weapons without anyone’s knowledge? As programmable matter technology develops, numerous issues similar to these will need to be addressed.

Applications of programmable matter

The programming that enables a user to trigger the formation of the desired shape is a crucial component of creating programmable matter. Scientists have developed a technique for programming shapes with stickers for the self-folding sheet. The goal is to make it possible for users to make shape requests without the aid of a computer.

The idea is to build all the electronic circuitry into the brilliant sheets, excluding the wiring for the actuators and connectors. Stickers are thin components with the circuitry needed to link and activate the appropriate actuators to create a particular object. The base sheet and the stickers that go with it are automatically designed using algorithms of the same type as those described for designing the placing of the sensors and the control for creating an object.

Application of programmable matter in space exploration

Even though we are big fans of crewed exploration missions because they tend to excite people more, most of the most intriguing discoveries are currently being made by unmannered rovers, orbiters, and landers. Programmable matter can play a huge role in space exploration missions.

Fortunately, finding a career where you can help with those missions largely depends on your aptitude for learning and determination to succeed. Even computer programmers who work from a desk can contribute to mission-critical tasks. These missions also involve a lot of work for aerospace engineers. These objectives would be aided by  programmable matter in aerospace engineering, computer programming, or robotics. Practically, programmable matter would be very helpful in any field of space exploration-related science (cosmology, planetary sciences, etc.)


To conclude, the study of programmable matter allows for much more. The technology might go in the direction of incorporating adaptability into the substance itself. The Programmable Matter program is the first step. For instance, adaptability might result in electronics that can withstand the heat and dust of the desert and then change to withstand the humidity and moisture of a jungle environment. Furthermore, programmable matter is very helpful in space exploration.