May 18, 2024

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

MGRU3 functions motor controllers specifically developed for the Moon rover. It is a vital piece of hardware in the rovers movement system that manages the motors that send out power to the rovers four wheels.
This unique technique is a method to help the rover get itself unstuck by moving its wheels in an unique, caterpillar-like collaborated way. The rover model likewise demonstrated 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 lose track of its area on the Moon.
” Using information and imagery from previous lunar missions, we developed various randomized scenes to mimic the surface terrain of the Moon, with craters and rocks of different sizes and shapes spread over the SLOPE tilt bed,” said Kevin May, rover and objective systems engineering intern at Ames who led the terrain preparation for the test.

Animation of NASAs Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) on the surface area of the Moon. Credit: NASA Ames/Daniel Rutter
NASAs Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) model recently withstood the most practical tests to date of its capability to drive through the most difficult terrain during its objective to the Moons South Pole. The lunar rover prototype dealt with the quicksand-like soil in the “sink tank,” climbed up the “tilt bed,” and dominated craters and stones.
Engineers put the most recent VIPER movement engineering test unit, understood as Moon Gravitation Representative Unit 3 (MGRU3), through its rates in the Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) Laboratory at NASAs Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. MGRU3 functions motor controllers specifically designed for the Moon rover. It is a crucial piece of hardware in the rovers mobility system that controls the motors that send power to the rovers four wheels.
NASAs Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) model just recently withstood the most sensible tests to date of its ability to drive through the most difficult surface throughout its objective to the Moons South Pole– all at the Simulated Lunar Operations (SLOPE) Laboratory at NASAs Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Credit: NASA

” Unlike most car engines, which utilize a throttle and brake to speed up and decrease all four wheels, VIPERs motor controllers make the rover wheels turn at the force and rate the chauffeurs desire, with severe precision to allow for much better efficiency,” stated Arno Rogg, test director and rover systems engineer at NASAs Ames Research Center in Californias Silicon Valley. “These tests allowed us to confirm the performance of the rover movement system and know it will work well on the Moon.”
The VIPER engineering group observe the rover models capability to navigate the fluffy lunar soil simulant in the SLOPE lab at NASAs Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Credit: NASA
Engineers also utilized the tests to assist figure out how well the rover will handle tough terrain conditions on the lunar surface area.
” We wanted to see if the rover is capable of progressing in a severe sinkage environment, and just how much slower VIPER may drive or how much extra power the rover would utilize due to the fact that of difficult soil conditions,” said Mercedes Herreras-Martinez VIPER threat supervisor and objective systems engineering technical interchange lead at Ames.
Using the newest build of the rover software, engineers likewise tested out the models capability to “inch-worm.” This special method is a method to assist the rover get itself unstuck by moving its wheels in an unique, caterpillar-like coordinated way. The rover model likewise demonstrated 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 lose track of its area on the Moon.
” Weve captured a lot of data with these tests about what takes place when the rover wheels grind over a rock or slip on loose surface, and any sensing unit drifts– when the rover gets a little off-course,” said Rogg.
All the Moon-like terrain and other risks the rover model come across were methodically and intentionally positioned in the SLOPE laboratory following the suggestions of the VIPER science group. The engineering test team then thoroughly chosen the soil simulants, hand-picked rocks, and even carefully crafted the shape and size of the craters to reasonably imitate actual functions at the surface of the Moons South Pole.
The VIPER engineering test group uses lunar soil simulants and hand-picked rocks to carefully shape the terrain to reasonably mimic actual functions at the surface of the Moons South Pole. Credit: NASA
Together with checking the rovers ability to drive over tough surface features, another goal was to check the rovers efficiency over lunar surface the group expects the rover to encounter the majority of the time.
” Using information and images from previous lunar objectives, we developed numerous randomized scenes to mimic the surface area terrain of the Moon, with craters and rocks of different sizes and shapes spread over the SLOPE tilt bed,” said Kevin May, rover and objective systems engineering intern at Ames who led the terrain preparation for the test. “With assistance from the VIPER science team, which generated cut-out design templates of crater profiles, we were able to form functions out of the terrain and shape more precise craters than ever before. By recreating reasonable Moon-like environments, we can get a far better concept of how VIPER will carry out on the surface area.”