Lunar Rover Impresses NASA Scientists
A Texas A&M University undergraduate engineering team developed a lunar rover prototype that could be used in a future moon mission.
Developed by a 10-person team consisting of six College Station and four Texas A&M University at Qatar Aggies, the prototype can collect lunar samples while being controlled through the internet. Built to maneuver diverse terrain, the rover has potential as a low-cost alternative to existing rovers.
The team presented its rover at NASA headquarters in Houston earlier this year, where it successfully navigated the facility’s simulated Martian and lunar rock fields with ease.
“This is a really powerful concept,” said Dr. Marc Fries, a NASA scientist. “Right now, if we want to collect lunar samples, we either send an expensive lander with lots of equipment but little movement capability, or a very large rover. This robot is a nice middle ground.”
The College Station team developed the robot’s electronic capabilities, while the Qatar team focused on its mechanical aspects. “It’s amazing coming from undergraduates,” said Dr. David Draper, manager of the Astromaterials Research Office at NASA. “This kind of innovative, outside-the-box thinking is what we need to learn more about planetary science. Hats off!”