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The Effects of Reduced-Gravity on Planetary Rover Mobility


The Effects of Reduced-Gravity on Planetary Rover Mobility

Niksirat, Parna, Daca, Adriana and Skonieczny, Krzysztof ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6540-3922 (2020) The Effects of Reduced-Gravity on Planetary Rover Mobility. International Journal of Robotics Research, 39 (7). pp. 797-811. ISSN 0278-3649

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0278364920913945


One of the major challenges faced by planetary exploration rovers today is the negotiation of difficult terrain, such as fine granular regolith commonly found on the Moon and Mars. Current testing methods on Earth fail to account for the effect of reduced-gravity on the soil itself. This work characterizes the effects of reduced-gravity on wheel-soil interactions between an ExoMars rover wheel prototype and a martian soil simulant aboard parabolic flights producing effective martian and lunar gravitational accelerations. These experiments are the first to collect wheel-soil interaction imagery and Force/Torque sensor data alongside wheel sinkage data. Results from reduced-gravity flights are compared to on-ground experiments with all parameters equal, including wheel load, such that the only difference between the experiments is the effect of gravity on the soil itself. In lunar-g, a statistically significant average reduction in traction of 20% is observed compared to 1-g, and in martian-g an average traction reduction of 5-10% is observed. Subsurface soil imaging shows that soil mobilization increases as gravity decreases, suggesting a deterioration in soil strength which could be the cause of the reduction in traction. Statistically significant increases in wheel sinkage in both martian-g and lunar-g provide additional evidence for decreased soil strength. All of these observations -- decreased traction, increased soil mobilization, and increased sinkage -- hinder a rover's ability to drive, and should be taken into consideration when interpreting results from reduced-load mobility tests conducted on Earth.

Divisions:Concordia University > Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science > Electrical and Computer Engineering
Item Type:Article
Authors:Niksirat, Parna and Daca, Adriana and Skonieczny, Krzysztof
Journal or Publication:International Journal of Robotics Research
Date:31 May 2020
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1177/0278364920913945
Keywords:Planetary rovers, reduced-gravity, wheel-soil interactions, terramechanics, parabolic flights, mobility, traction
ID Code:993106
Deposited By: Krzysztof Skonieczny
Deposited On:07 Nov 2023 20:13
Last Modified:07 Nov 2023 20:13
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