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  • Small Robots for Small Bodies: Delivering Microrovers to Low-g Environments

    Paper number



    Dr. Ed Chester, CTAE, Spain



    Several excellent designs for extremely small, mobile surface elements already exist and are well developed for a range of target bodies. Payloads, range, and overall capability vary considerably, but in general the communications requirement has led to a derived requirement for in-situ communications relay support. This naturally leads to a tethered concept that is then re-used for power supply, thus increasing the lifetime, but reducing the autonomy of microrovers. The best-known example is the Nanokhod rover developed by vH\&S, a 2kg tracked and tethered system suitable for use in a wide variety of locations.
    A major element affecting the overall viability of microrovers to implement or support exploration missions is missing in the rover design studies: the delivery and deployment at their target location. This paper examines the requirements (particularly in terms of energy changes) for safely delivering microrovers to a relatively low-{\it g} environment ($<0.1g$) and deploying them on a surface to conduct their own mission. Scenarios are subsequently developed from the requirements, covering single and multiple microrovers for a dedicated mission, and also as piggyback elements for other lander/rover concepts. A delivery system design is presented for the multiple microrover scenario, with preliminary top-level budgets. We conclude with a brief trade-off in terms of science value, system complexity, and operational context for microrovers on small objects.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document