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 CeGlaFlex project: wafer-thin, unbreakable and flexible ceramic and glass
25.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Additive manufacturing, from macro to nano
11.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>