AE Unit 10: Remote Rovers

Creating, programming, and piloting a rover on a remote planet

REMOTE ROVER OVERVIEW

In the last unit, we created a surveying satellite to get a look at what the Martian landing surface looked like.  If all went well, you and your team should have a group of maps of the area, and a plan for where you want to pilot your rover.  You now get to work with your team to plan a rover mission. In this unit you should be learning:

  • How to plan and program a remote rover
  • How to plan and map out rover commands and pathways
  • How to pilot a rover remotely

In the end, you’ll need to be able to use your team’s rover to remotely explore the landing site for the Malemute Mars Mission. As you develop your remote rover solution, you’ll go through three major steps:

  • STEP 1: Learn about other rovers and their development
  • STEP 2: Build, program, and test your remote rover
  • STEP 3: Plan your rover’s navigation and route, then pilot your rover on the Martian surface

When you’re all done, you will have learned about rovers used by NASA to explore the surface of the moon and Mars.  You also will have helped design, build, and program a rover and use it to explore a landing site for the Malemute Mars Mission.

PART 1: REMOTE ROVERS

(10 pts) About 2 days

For decades, NASA and other space organizations have sent satellites and rovers to the moon and other planets to learn more about them.  As we start this unit, we’ll take some time to become familiar with those efforts and how rovers have evolved.

PART 2: DESIGN, BUILD & PROGRAM

(30 pts) About 3 days

Your team now has to build a small rover that can be easily driven on the Martian surface to identify and collect samples before the Malemute Mars Mission can send its crew.  Your rover needs to be small and reliable so that it can be sent to the Martian surface and piloted from here on Earth.

PART 3: REMOTE ROVING

(30 pts) About 4 days

Finally, you and your team need to plan out the route for your rover’s traverse.  Your rover will only have a limited functional lifetime on the planet surface, and you’ll need to balance that with the communication delay between Earth and Mars.  Careful planning can lead to a great exploration of the surface!

Part 1: Remote Rovers

Investigating the development of lunar and Mars rovers

Lunar & Mars Rovers

To get started with unmanned systems, we need to begin by learning about the kinds of unmanned vessels used in space.  We’ll start with a quick look at remote surveying satellites both on Earth and in other places in space.  Then we’ll look at rovers of different kinds to think about how groups like NASA needed to design them in order to accomplish specific tasks.

You’ll also be asked to identify an Unmanned System that interests you and do some research to find out how it was made and how it is used.  These ideas together will give us a good perspective as we start designing our own remote satellites.

GRADING & PROCESS

Take 1 full page of detailed notes on lunar and Mars rovers

Complete your own “Rover Investigation”

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes and investigation

Getting Pathfinder to Mars

Getting Curiosity to Mars

New Mars Rover Concept

What’s Due In Part 1: Remote Rovers

  • Notes
  • Investigation
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Remote Rovers

  1. Take a full page of careful notes on lunar and Mars rovers
  2. Complete your own Rover Investigation
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your notes & investigation

Part 2: Design, Build & Program

Design, build, and program your rover

Malemute Mars Mission Phase 4 Overview

 

As our Malemute Mars Mission continues into Phase 4, our job is to design, build, and program a rover.  This rover will be sent to the Martian surface that your team was able to map with your satellite.  The job of your rover will then be to navigate the surface of Mars to identify water samples, magnetic ore, and clear the landing site.

Your job as a team here is to build your rover using your chosen system (VEX, FTC, etc) so that it can be driven remotely.  You’ll need to add attachments for sampling water, collecting ore, and cleaning the landing site.  You’ll also need to be able to receive a video feed so you know what your rover is doing!

GRADING & PROCESS

 Discuss the problem with your team and clearly define your design brief in your engineering notebook

 Design your rover following the given parameters

 Build your rover following the design plan you and your team made

 Program your rover to collect the necessary data – be sure to test your design to make sure it works as needed!

 Have Mr. Benshoof review your design before it blasts off for Mars

Rover Design

 

Rover Build

Rover Program

What’s Due In Part 2: Design, Build & Program

  • Design Brief
  • Rover Design
  • Rover Build
  • Rover Program
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Review

Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Design, Build & Program

  1. Create a design brief in your engineering notebook
  2. Design your rover
  3. Build your rover
  4.  Program your rover
  5. Have Mr. Benshoof review your satellite before firing it into space

Part 3: Remote Roving

Drive your rover on the Martian surface to accomplish tasks

Rover Challenge Overview

With your rover built and shipped off to the red planet, it’s time to plan your mission.  Your rover will only be able to power for a short time every day, and even then only for three days before its systems are degraded.  In addition to this challenge, communications with Mars take time, so your commands to the rover will have a significant delay before they lead to action.  

For this final part, you and your team need to use your topographic maps to carefully plan out your rover’s journey around the planet.  You’ll need to have a good plan to make the most of the short time you’ll have for your rover to operate.  While there, your rover needs to sample as many water sources as possible, collect as many magnetic ore samples as possible, and clear your intended Mars Mission Landing Zone!

GRADING & PROCESS

 Plan your rover’s journey around the Martian landscape carefully; include a map and diagram in your engineering notebook

 Work with your team to pilot your rover over 3 driving days

 Complete rover challenges

 Complete the Rover Reflection in your engineering notebook

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your rover success!

What’s Due In Part 3: Remote Roving

  • Plan Route
  • Pilot Rover
  • Challenges
  • Reflection
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Remote Roving

  1.  Plan and record rover navigation route
  2. Pilot the rover for 3 days
  3.  Complete rover challenges
  4.  Complete rover reflection
  5. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your rover success!

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to give us some experience with the concept of designing something to drive remotely on another planet.  While the concept is simple, the constraints get more and more stringent and challenging as we travel other places.  This unit is meant to make us tackle problems of rover size and weight, control, planning, and navigation.  This is not meant to be an easy challenge, but rather one that requires a lot of trouble-shooting, communication, and persistence.  In addition to having the experience for ourselves, this unit should also put the job of NASA engineers in perspective as they try to send large rovers to Mars and beyond.

Engineering Notebook:

(Part 1) You should have taken careful notes on lunar and Martian rovers

(Part 2) You should have created a design brief in your notebook that includes criteria and constraints

(Part 3) You should have included a map of your team’s rover navigation plan

(Part 3) You should have completed the rover reflection in your engineering notebook

Building & Making:

(Part 1) You should have completed your individual Rover Investigation

(Part 3) You should have worked with your team to design, build, and program your rover

(Part 3) You should have used your rover to complete the various rover challenges within the drive time limit

Checkpoints & Quizzes:

(Part 1) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your notes on rovers as well as your own investigation

(Part 2) Mr. Benshoof should have approved your rover design before it is launched to Mars

(Part 3) Mr. Benshoof should have confirmed your rover success!