The CSA's Rex rover has a robotic arm that simulates collecting Martian rock and soil samples. It travels at 4cm/sec (1.57inch/sec). On its six aluminum or rubber wheels, the rover can navigate over obstacles up to 15cm (5.9 inches) high and climb slopes of up to 10 degrees. Rex weighs 140kg (308.64 pounds) and measures 152 x 142 x 76cm (59.84 x 55.9 x 29.92 inches). It can carry up to 30kg (66.13 pounds) of science payloads. In 2010, the CSA jointly field tested the rover with NASA at the Flagstaff Meteor Crater in Arizona. (Source: Canadian Space Agency)
It's worth recalling that the CSA's budget is around $300 million a year, about 1/60th of NASA's budget of about $18 billion. And it seems to me that this project was done with at least one eye on terrestrial applications -- specifically, to help BRP (and other Canadian companies, presumably) to develop better consumer products, with the SL Commander being Exhibit A.
(By the way, that's why the SL Commander has a windshield; as the caption to the slide points out, it's based on work that BRP did for the Lunar Light Exploration Rover, but it's intended for use on Earth).
Since the CSA is part of Industry Canada, it makes sense for them to be promoting Canadian businesses. That's what Industry Canada is supposed to do, after all. Imagine if NASA were part of the Department of Commerce.
While the CSA may be small, Canada has a larger space presence through a number of its private companies, including McDonald Dettwiler, mentioned in the article, which recently acquired SpaceSystems/Loral. This model (a significant private sector presence, coupled with a smaller public sector, focused mainly on helping the private sector) seems to be one that some people would like to see the U.S. space program emulate.
Nice to see that the CSA has other projects besides the arm that they are known for. This is quite a variety of concepts. I'm assuming they are platforms to test different instruments/approaches/missions rather than a "family" of rovers geared toward a specific mission.
Ervin. Have to agree with you on this one. I think the mechanical drive concepts are OK and fairly well thought out but lift off and re-entry are definitely tough on components and other equipment. I worked in the aerospace industry (Titan II Missile) some years ago and "survival" was the key word. Generally, mission critical components and systems had redundancy. It was amazing to me how many launches were successful due to the redundant systems after the primary systems failed. I definitely enjoyed Ann's post and it's very interesting to see what's in the works relative to probes that might be used.
Ann--Excellent post. Do you know if there is available information that would tell us what "on-board" diagnostic packages exist to analyze soil, air for methane, test for water, etc etc? Is there a "standard" schedule of experiments given for probes of this type; i.e. lunar, Mars, etc? I have taken a look at the NASA web site and don't see any specifics. (Maybe missed them.) This would be very interesting to know. Again, excellent post.
I looked critically at the critical note about figure number ten. It states the rugged processor box wouldn't last a minute in space, from "one who knows" But the legend states the box is space rated by NASA, ESA and Nippon SA. Who is kidding whom?
No offense to anyone but half the stuff I see in here are not going to survive space a minute in. especially that "ruggedized computer" in image ten. I can see holes the size of quarters on it that are not sealed in any way. Take it from some one that has worked on materials that actually go to space pin size cracks that require a 10X magnifying glass to see are a problem if your insulation material is not sufficient. One more thing, those connectors just don't look space worthy. Really Ethernet? Custom sealed connectors rated for space might do the trick. Generally speaking off the shelf connectors that are rated for that environment will be cheaper than to design your own too so good rule of thumb don't try this at home.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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