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 New technology for ultra-smooth polymer films
28.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

nachricht Diamond watch components
18.06.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>