The team is working hard on our first test rover, the not-so-catchy named Iteration 2, to mature the mechanical, electrical and software design. After a few indoor tests and public appearances – including the “Brigde of the Future” and “Researchers' Night” events –, the rover was delivered to the former bauxite mine at Gánt. The site now serves as a museum and a geological park, and was used in the Hunveyor educational space probe experiments as an analogue to Mars, so it was a good candidate for field tests. For the first test run, we picked a hardpan covered with gravel and some sand.
Puli Space engineers take a break, but meanwhile envisage new tortures for the rover.
Small dunes were a piece of cake...
The first results were encouraging: the “wheg” (wheel+leg) concept worked well on smaller dunes and gentle slopes and hillsides. We run into some troubles, however, on a steep hill with loose gravel and rocks.
...steep hills - not so much.
Cleats or baffles will be attached to the wheels to gain additional traction, but that's the easy part. Because the wheels extend above the body, they sometimes kick up dust onto the solar panels. We plan to distance the wheels from the body of the rover to prevent the dust contamination of the panels.
View of one of the RECAs (Rear Camera) on the rover
These test are of vital importance: in a few months the Puli rover will be shipped to Morocco, to participate in MARS2013, the month-long simulation of a Martian expedition, organized by the ÖWF (Austrian Space Forum). Why Mars, you may ask? Well, in the sense of driving around boulders and craters, the terrains on Mars and on the Moon are quite similar. And that's exactly what we want to test: driving the rover remotely – and safely.
Photos: Puli Space
Last Updated (Wednesday, 17 October 2012 19:17)