Thursday, August 19, 2010

NASA's Six-Legged Roving Lunar Base

"NASA Takes Huge Moon Rover for a Test Drive ... and Dance" (August 17, 2010)

"After years on the drawing board and in the lab, NASA's huge All-Terrain, Hex-Limbed, Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) rover is finally getting a chance to stretch its six legs.

"Engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has put the ATHLETE rover through a series of long-drive tests on the long, dirt roads found adjacent to the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California where ATHLETE was designed and built. They even made a music video in which the bug-like rover appears to dance. [Video of the dancing ATHLETE rover.]

"ATHLETE is a half-scale working prototype of a robot under development to transport habitats and other cargo on the surface of the moon or Mars. The ATHLETE concept is a level cargo deck carried by six wheels, each on the end of a configurable leg...."

So far, ATHLETE's gone for test runs - rolls? - on dirt roads around the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL doesn't have unpaved test terrain bit enough to let ATHLETE go through its paces - and rotations.

There's more testing coming soon:

"...The engineers want to test the moon rover's ability to meet a NASA milestone of traveling at least 25 miles (40 km) over 14 days under its own power. The official demonstration is slated to begin in the Arizona high desert next month...."

The idea with ATHLETE is to develop a lunar base that can travel - driven by astronauts to new locations. That should save time and money in the long run, since a base could be set up once, and then go where it's needed: instead of setting up a new base at each new location.

The article includes a link to a JPL video on their website. I did a little checking, and the video's on YouTube, too:

"ATHLETE Rover Busts a Move: A Dancing Robot"

JPLnews, YouTube (July 30, 2010)
video, 0:52
[size reduced to fit this blog's format]

"So you think you can dance? The ATHLETE rover thinks it can, too. Under development at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ATHLETE is a 1/2-scale working prototype of a robot for potential use on the moon or Mars. More info and pics of ATHLETE at work at:"

The ATHLETE rover is more of a waldo than a robot - a distinction I've mentioned in another post.

Nit-picking on terminology aside, the video's fun - and shows how the rover is designed to climb off its lander.
More, in this blog:

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory