Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Vehicle poised to advance exploration on Mars

02.05.2003


Pioneering research carried out by Kingston University is helping to pave the way for a manned mission to Mars. A project team based at the University’s School of Engineering has developed a robotic micro-rover to travel the Martian surface to find out whether humans could live in the Red Planet’s hostile environment.



Named Endurance, the small self-propelled vehicle will be powered by the sun’s rays and equipped to drill beneath the surface to find out if life exists on Mars in the form of microbes. Sponsored by the European Space Agency, the research project is designed to improve the mobility and reliability of technology being used to investigate the planet.

Project leader Dr Alex Ellery said that, even though an actual manned mission to Mars was still many years away, the new vehicle could prove crucial in helping to determine the type of survival equipment needed in the future.


The biggest challenge Dr Ellery and his team have faced was working out how to build a vehicle that could travel across the hostile and rocky environment without tipping over. The planet’s gravity is about one third that on earth, which also makes mobile exploration difficult.

A vehicle on wheels would not provide enough control and stability, so the team has opted to use two single-loop tracks, similar to those on a military tank but with no bogey wheels and no separate links. “The tracks will be made of shape memory alloy. When distorted in any way, it immediately springs back to its original shape. Its other great advantage is that it withstands deformation as it goes over rocks while maintaining stability,” Dr Ellery said. Each alloy track will be looped around drive wheels and shock absorbers at the ends of the Endurance’s chassis. As a result, the drive wheels will be raised above the surface by a few centimetres, keeping the vehicle upright and out of harm’s way.

“The micro-rover is being developed to enable scientists to penetrate beneath the surface in search of life using a drill,” Dr Ellery said. “The surface of Mars is saturated with hydrogen peroxide - a strong and colourless substance that corrodes organic material. If there are signs of life, they will lie beneath this corrosive layer.”

A prototype of Endurance, packed with drilling and sample analysing equipment, is likely to be built this summer by defence company Qinetiq and German research agency DLR. It will weigh only 30kg to allow it to be transported and landed safely on the planet. If all goes according to plan, the Endurance vehicle will be loaded on to a rocket for the six-month journey to Mars either in 2009 or 2011.

John Kendall | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kingston.ac.uk

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Innovative process for environmentally friendly manure treatment comes onto the market
03.05.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

nachricht No compromises: Combining the benefits of 3D printing and casting
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>