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Monday, March 03, 2008

New Moon Rover Will Be Used for Planned Moon Mission in Near Future

NASA has released images of its latest lunar exploration concept vehicle named "Chariot" - a six-wheeled, variable height, stand-to-operate surface rover prototype designed to provide ideas for future designs as part of the long-term goal of establishing an outpost on the moon by 2020.

Built at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, each wheel on the new prototype vehicle has independent steering to enable "crab crawling" on the face of steep craters and other challenges presented by the lunar terrain, as well as having advantages for unloading and docking manoeuvres. Having six-wheels also means that the rover has more chance of continuing to function if something goes awry with one or two of the wheels - a point already proven on Mars.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I took some action photos of Chariot when it was on a test run in Moses Lake, WA:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/burlone/sets/72157605563763617/

Jack Howley said...

Some ‘ancient’ history about previous moon rover concept vehicles: In about 1969 I worked at the Air Force Bionic’s Lab at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

A team in the Bionics Lab had constructed a concept moon rover that walked like a 4 legged animal. This “rover” was about 24-30 inches tall and could simulate traversing a rocky terrain by “walking” up stairs. It was weird when a team member would play with this thing; you could hear the whirring sound of its electrical motor which was powered by a battery. I think it may have been a car battery (this was the 60’s). It had a milk crate-sized tray for carrying stuff. The walking “rover” might have been useful for transporting things but was definitely too small and not powerful enough to carry a person.

Jack Howley,
Former AF Bionics Lab researcher