The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which invented and made the International Space Station's 30-year robotic Canadarm project, is working on lunar and Mars robot rovers. It recently unveiled five rover prototypes and put them through their paces on the agency's testing terrain, which simulates the surfaces of Mars and the moon.
The new lineup includes four lunar rovers -- the Micro-Rover Platform with Tooling Arm, the Kapvik Micro-Rover, the Artemis, and the Lunar Exploration Light Rover -- and the Mars Exploration Science Rover. They are in addition to the Juno and Rex rovers, which have been operating since 2010.
The CSA also developed some spinoff technologies resulting from its rover development work. They include the SL-Commander automated electric all-terrain vehicle, a fuel cell, and the Q6 mini-computer.
Click on the image below to check them out.
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)
Ann, this is interesting, but does the CSA plan to deploy these. I recently saw a show on PBS which went into some detaill about the Curiosity rover. This is a large vehicle. One thing that was interesting was the Mars Exploration Science Rover. Your caption states that the rover is designed to collect samples to bring back to earth. As far as I know, this is a very expensive proposition. The Curiosity rover has the lab built in so that it can analyze the samples in place.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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