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Axel Mobility Platform for Steep Terrain Excursions and Sampling on Planetary Surfaces

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4 Author(s)
Nesnas, I.A.D. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA ; Abad-Manterola, P. ; Edlund, J.A. ; Burdick, J.W.

The recent discovery of bright new deposits in two crater gullies on Mars suggests that water still flows in brief spurts on Mars. In this paper, we will present the Axel rover (Figure 1) that was developed to access and sample such deposits on the inside of steep crater walls. Axel is a tethered rover that can be a payload on a lander or a larger rover. The primary features of Axel are its minimal complexity and robustness to the treacherous terrain of sites that are of scientific interest. Using a symmetrical design with three actuators, Axel is capable of operating upside down and right side up, enabling it to descend over crater promontories. With its actuated trailing link, Axel can operate on both flat and sloped terrains. Using a sampling device mounted on the trailing link, Axel can collect and store terrain samples and return to its host platform for detailed scientific sample analysis. We will present our preliminary results that demonstrated Axel's ability to traverse both flat and sloped rocky terrain including 90deg vertical cliffs and collecting soil samples on slopes ranging from 10deg - 40deg in the JPL Mars Yard.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2008 IEEE

Date of Conference:

1-8 March 2008