Conjoined Lander-Rovers for Planetary Exploration

Steven Huber
master's thesis, tech. report CMU-RI-TR-09-11, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, May, 2009


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Abstract
This research explores the configuration of conjoined lander-rovers for planetary exploration. Technical evolution has refined landers and rovers, and improvement has been continuous, but ongoing evolution offers no leap of performance for a given launch. As long as rovers and landers are distinct, there is inevitable redundancy of structure, power, computing, and communication. For traditional rovers and landers, each redundant component is manifested in mass and volume, which precludes minimization of mobile planetary exploration systems. The opportunity devised is to eliminate boundaries demarcating lander and rover. This research explores the principles of conjoined lander-rovers. The great benefit is minimizing component counts, to do more with less. These payoffs equate to less mass, simplified integration, and lower costs than achievable with conventional configurations. This enables capable planetary exploration from small launch vehicles. Many configurations for capable surface exploration succeed with hundreds of kilograms of dry mass. Only conjoined lander-rovers might cross the one hundred kilogram barrier. Results include the development of morphology, mechanisms, structure, and avionics to enable lightweight exploration. Developments detail specialized design to handle the hard vacuum, thermal swings, radiation, and dust on the moon within the restrictions of low mass and volume. An exemplary mission used as context for this is research is the Google Lunar XPrize (GLXP). The GLXP offers a $20 million dollar prize to send a robot to the moon and transmit back high quality video and imagery.

Keywords
planetary, rover, lander, XPrize, GLXP, moon

Notes
Associated Center(s) / Consortia: Field Robotics Center
Associated Project(s): Google Lunar X Prize
Number of pages: 55

Text Reference
Steven Huber, "Conjoined Lander-Rovers for Planetary Exploration," master's thesis, tech. report CMU-RI-TR-09-11, Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, May, 2009

BibTeX Reference
@mastersthesis{Huber_2009_6432,
   author = "Steven Huber",
   title = "Conjoined Lander-Rovers for Planetary Exploration",
   booktitle = "",
   school = "Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University",
   month = "May",
   year = "2009",
   number= "CMU-RI-TR-09-11",
   address= "Pittsburgh, PA",
}