NASA’s VIPER Lunar Rover Prototype Motors Through Moon-Like Obstacle Course


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Animation of NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) on the surface area of theMoon Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter

< period class ="glossaryLink" aria-describedby ="tt" data-cmtooltip ="<div class=glossaryItemTitle>NASA</div><div class=glossaryItemBody>Established in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is &quot;To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.&quot; Its core values are &quot;safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion.&quot;</div>" data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) prototype recently endured the most realistic tests to date of its ability to drive through the most challenging terrain during its mission to the Moon’s South Pole. The lunar rover prototype faced the quicksand-like soil in the “sink tank,” climbed the “tilt bed,” and conquered boulders and craters.

Engineers put the latest VIPER mobility engineering test unit, known as Moon Gravitation Representative Unit 3 (MGRU3), through its paces in the Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. MGRU3 features motor controllers specially designed for the Moon rover. It is a critical piece of hardware in the rover’s mobility system that controls the motors that send power to the rover’s four wheels.

NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) model just recently sustained the most reasonable tests to date of its capability to drive through the most tough surface throughout its objective to the Moon’s South Pole– all at the Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center inCleveland Credit: NASA

“Unlike most car engines, which use a throttle and brake to speed up and slow down all four wheels, VIPER’s motor controllers make the rover wheels turn at the force and rate the drivers want, with extreme precision to allow for better performance,” stated Arno Rogg, test director and rover systems engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s SiliconValley “These tests allowed us to verify the performance of the rover mobility system and know it will work well on the Moon.”

VIPER Rover Testing

The VIPER engineering group observe the rover model’s capability to browse the fluffy lunar soil simulant in the SLOPE laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center inCleveland Credit: NASA

Engineers likewise utilized the tests to assist identify how well the rover will manage tough surface conditions on the lunar surface area.

“We wanted to see if the rover is capable of moving forward in an extreme sinkage environment, and how much slower VIPER might drive or how much additional power the rover would use because of tricky soil conditions,” stated Mercedes Herreras-Martinez VIPER danger supervisor and objective systems engineering technical interchange lead at Ames.

Using the current develop of the rover software application, engineers likewise evaluated out the model’s capability to “inch-worm.” This unique method is a method to assist the rover get itself unstuck by moving its wheels in an unique, caterpillar-like collaborated method. The rover model likewise showed that it will autonomously stop moving if it approaches a slope that is too high for it to climb up or if it were to ever misplace its area on the Moon.

“We’ve captured a lot of data with these tests about what happens when the rover wheels grind over a rock or slip on loose terrain, and any sensor drifts – when the rover gets slightly off-course,” stated Rogg.

All the Moon- like surface and other dangers the rover model come across were systematically and intentionally positioned in the SLOPE laboratory following the suggestions of the VIPER science group. The engineering test group then thoroughly picked the soil simulants, carefully picked rocks, and even thoroughly crafted the sizes and shape of the craters to reasonably imitate real functions at the surface area of the Moon’s South Pole.

VIPER Engineering Test Team

The VIPER engineering test group utilizes lunar soil simulants and carefully picked rocks to thoroughly form the surface to reasonably imitate real functions at the surface area of the Moon’s SouthPole Credit: NASA

Along with checking the rover’s capability to drive over tough surface functions, another objective was to evaluate the rover’s efficiency over lunar surface the group anticipates the rover to experience the majority of the time.

“Using data and imagery from previous lunar missions, we created various randomized scenes to mimic the surface terrain of the Moon, with craters and rocks of different sizes and shapes scattered over the SLOPE tilt bed,” stated Kevin May, rover and objective systems engineering intern at Ames who led the surface preparation for the test. “With help from the VIPER science team, which generated cut-out templates of crater profiles, we were able to form features out of the terrain and shape more accurate craters than ever before. By recreating realistic Moon-like environments, we can get a much better idea of how VIPER will perform on the surface.”

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