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We are embarking to send a robot to the moon in 1997 to perform a two year, thousand kilometer traverse, visiting the historic landing sites of Apollo 11, Ranger, Surveyor and Lunakhod. This rover will represent a return to the lunar surface after more than 25 years. The project will push the limits of mobile communication, teleoperation, robotic safeguarding and durability of a machine in the harsh environment of the lunar surface. Other issues include autonomy, telemetry, and reliability of software and hardware. The LunarTrek project will be a milestone towards the long range goal of extensive lunar exploration and commerce.
The moon offers opportunities for rich solar power and direct telemetry to earth, but presents substantial environmental challenges. The communications link, propulsion, computing and payload motivate a 300W class power system. Video telemetry requires unprecedented precision pointing of a high gain antenna from the moving robot. Heat, dust, and radiation motivate an enclosure to protect the power system, computing, transponder, and other payload. The enclosure will be heated at night, possibly using phase change materials and resistive heating. Critical surfaces including solar array, radiators, and lenses must be covered during landing, dawn, and dusk.
Our strategy is to build a rover that embodies mechanical simplicity, robustness and capability. We anticipate a 200 kg class rover that will fly on a Phobos class lander, launched by a proton class booster.The rover will offer earthbound participants a realistic experience of lunar exploration. The design proposes a skid steered rover powered by an actively pointed circular solar array. The locomotion system is powered by six wheel motors. The communication system is an actively steered Ku band antenna mounted in the center of the body. Excess heat is dissipated using upward pointing radiators. Night survival is accomplished by closing and insulating the enclosure and using batteries to keep the inside warm until the next lunar day.
The talk will present the issues and the concept generated by the 1994 Mobile Robot Design Course. The seminar will be lead by the course instructor, Dr. Red Whittaker.
Host: Yangsheng Xu (firstname.lastname@example.org) Appointment: Lalit Katragadda (email@example.com)