A team of students from Missouri University of Science and Technology designed a prototype Mars rover that placed 10th out of 40 competitors in the European Rover Challenge (ERC). Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover Design Team was the only U.S. team to compete.
The ERC, held Sept. 5-6 in Podzamcze, Poland, is an international competition that challenges students to design, build and operate the next generation of Mars rovers.
Prior to the start of the competition, the students were required to submit a video presentation that explained the design and cost of their rover. Students also had to submit a detailed final expense report to competition judges. At the competition, the team competed in four active rover events.
The astronaut assistance task required teams to use the rover to collect lost tools left in the field and deliver them to multiple locations throughout the field.
The equipment-servicing task required the rover to repair a mock equipment system and included tasks like turning valves, pushing buttons and reading pressure gauges.
In the sample return task, the rover took soil samples at selected sites in the field and used onboard instrumentation to perform a basic scientific evaluation to determine geological significance or determine the likelihood of biological life.
In the terrain traversing task, rovers were required to maneuver through a variety of difficult terrains to test ruggedness and ability to find the route through soft sand, rough stones, rock and boulder fields, vertical drops, and steep slopes.
Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover, named Horizon, is a student-designed and -built machine. The team developed custom circuitry for the rover, machined the aluminum and carbon-fiber support structure, created carbon-fiber wheels, had the frame cut using water-jet technology at Missouri S&T’s Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center, and 3-D printed the gears and drill bits used in the rover’s arm. Earlier this year, the team earned fifth place at the University Rover Challenge sponsored by the Mars Society.
To fund its travel expenses, the team successfully raised $20,000 through a crowdfunding project. Its crowdfunding effort was funded 128 percent by donors who visited crowdfunding.mst.edu.
For more information about the competition, visit roverchallenge.eu or facebook.com/europeanroverchallenge.
Dr. Melanie Mormile, professor of biological sciences and special assistant to the provost for faculty affairs at Missouri S&T, is the team advisor. Dr. Garry Grubbs, assistant professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T and associate advisor for the Mars Rover Design Team, accompanied the team to Poland. The following Missouri S&T Mars Rover Design Team members traveled to Poland:
- Owen Chiaventone, a junior in computer engineering and computer science from Weston, Missouri
- Joshua Jetter, a senior in electrical and computer engineering from El Dorado Hills, California
- Alyssa McCarthy, a junior in engineering management from Waterloo, Illinois
- Michael Miles, a senior in electrical and computer engineering from Hannibal, Missouri
- Joshua Reed, a senior in computer science from Clinton, Missouri
- Spencer Vogel, a senior in computer science from St. Louis.