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3D4 Space - Advanced Systems, Components, and Novel Methods for Planetary Exploration with Wheeled Mobile Robots

Author(s): Lopez-Arreguin AJR, Linke S, Stoll E, Freund R, Prziwara PF, Voss A, Schilde C, Kwade A, Homey E, Schroeder T, Wiehle M and Thomas D

The history of roving vehicles on other extraterrestrial bodies has become the breakthrough of space exploration. Mastering the challenges imposed by past missions requires vigorous technology developments carried out in terrestrial laboratories, where planetary mobile systems are fundamentally developed to acquire in-situ terrain recognition, measurements, and perform diverse operations autonomously in open extreme environments. In cooperation with different institutes of Lower Saxony, TU Braunschweig is engaged in developing engineering and scientific research of planetary rovers. This paper summarizes the project goals and latest activities, including the in-house production and characterization of lunar regolith simulant for mare and highland regions of the Moon. The conception of new printing techniques for lunar prototyping and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) are presented, along a demonstrator mission that aims to validate in-situ manufacturing of regolith supported with robotic equipment. Rover wheels and a chassis suspension are developed to guarantee improved locomotion and mechanical stability. They will be verified and validated by means of a single wheel testbed to enhance novel design and development of exploration systems.

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