Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Mars Rover Design Team is one of 30 international teams selected to compete at the University Rover Challenge, where teams showcase potential next-generation planet surveyors.
The University Rover Challenge, sponsored by the Mars Society, is June 2-4 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. It is designed to demonstrate the fundamentals of remote robotic travel and task completion. The Utah desert is used because it resembles the rocky terrain of Mars.
Missouri S&T’s team will compete against teams from around the world. Countries represented include Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, India, Poland and South Korea, in addition to teams from the United States.
To qualify for the event, teams were required to submit a video presentation that explained the design and cost of their rover. They also had to submit a detailed final expense report.
At the event, all 30 teams will first attempt to pass an obstacle course over rough terrain. The top 15 teams will then compete in a series of space-related tasks.
The astronaut assistance task requires teams to use the rover to collect lost tools left in the field and deliver them to multiple locations.
The equipment servicing challenge requires the rover to repair a mock equipment system. Tasks could include turning valves, pushing buttons and reading pressure gauges.
In the sample return, the rover must collect soil samples at selected sites in the field and use 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 must maneuver through a variety of difficult terrains to test ruggedness and ability to find a route through soft sand, rough stones, rock and boulder fields, vertical drops, and steep slopes.
Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover, named Zenith, is a student-designed and -built rover. The team developed custom circuitry for the rover, machined the aluminum and carbon-fiber support structure, developed carbon-fiber wheels for terrain mobility, had the frame cut using water-jet technology, and 3-D printed the gears and drill bits used in the rover’s arm.
For more information about the competition, visit urc.marssociety.org.