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Engineering - Mechanical Engineering | Planetary Rovers - Tools for Space Exploration

Planetary Rovers

Tools for Space Exploration

Ellery, Alex

2015, X, 700 p.


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ISBN 978-3-642-03258-5

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Due: October 13, 2014

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  • About this book

  • Gives a historical introduction to the use of robotic rovers for planetary exploration
  • Depicts planetary rover development and all aspects relevant to the design of these systems
  • Uniquely combines space engineering, robotics and automatic technologies
  • Provides a case study based on the Exo Mars Rover
  • Deals with associated problems of locomotion and navigation
  • Addresses the need for astrobiology planetary science missions, highlighting NASA’s ‘follow the water’ strategy

With the recent declarations of intent by spacefaring nations to return to the Moon and to send sample return missions to Mars, this self-contained and comprehensive book will be most timely. It will include a case study - the ExoMars Rover - to which both authors have contributed for the European Space Agency. The highly successful US Mars Exploration Rover programme, in which Lutz Richter was involved, will also be covered.

To the authors' knowledge, this unique book will be the only one that covers the space, automotive and robotics technologies specifically geared to the development and design of planetary rovers and the associated problems of locomotion and navigation.

The book will open with an introduction to the use of robotic rovers for planetary exploration and their relationship to other terrestrial applications, including oceanography. The terrain in particular, in planetary environment, is a major design driver for the planetary rover and therefore a review of each planet and small bodies of the solar system and their impact on rover design is provided. Mars is the best known example for the NASA ‘follow the water’ strategy in astrobiology research and is the most likely planet to be explored in the near term.

Planetary missions are designed with a different engineering philosophy than Earth-orbiting missions. There are great uncertainties about the operational environment, new scientific instruments, and the requirement for new spacecraft and robotic technologies to make them economically feasible. These include rover design, locomotion, autonomous navigation, rover avionics, mission communications’ architecture and power generation and thermal control. The authors conclude by speculating on the need for the manned astrobiological investigation of Mars in terms of near-term evolution of robotic terminology and how robotic rovers can support manned mission by relieving the astronaut/cosmonaut workload.

In addition, the future of robotic astrobiology missions will be explored with the implementation of biomimetic robots which attempt to utilise biological solutions to engineering problems. Finally, Nanotechnology and its limitations in the miniaturisation of actuation systems will be covered.

Content Level » Research

Related subjects » Mechanical Engineering

Table of contents 

Introduction.- Planetary Environments.- The Design of Planetary Rover Missions.- Scientific Payload, Deployment.- Robotic Rover Design.- Rover Locomotion.- Autonomous Navigation.- Rover Avionics.- Mission Communications Architecture.- Power Generation, Thermal Control.- A Case Study: The ExoMars Mission.- Conclusions, The Future.

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