14 September 2006 Rovers within rovers: a hierarchical approach
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Abstract
The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) Sojourner in 1997, and Spirit and Opportunity in 2004, provide an example of how the selection of rover size impacts the nature of their respective mission objectives and capabilities. Smaller rovers tend to be more nimble and can more closely explore a complex environment, but at a cost of reduced capability. Larger rovers have enhanced capabilities, but at a cost of being somewhat ponderous, especially in complex environments. A hierarchical roving concept attempts to optimize the best of these extremes by carrying a hierarchy of smaller specialized rovers within a larger one. The larger carrier rover acts as a communications relay and power recharge source for the smaller rovers and transports them collectively to a deployment site. After having been deployed and executing their respective missions, the smaller rovers are recovered by the carrier rover and then transported to the next site. Additional benefits of this approach include redundancy, spatially distributed capability, greater situational awareness, and the opportunity for self-rescue. Design and construction experience with a carrier rover containing three smaller specialized rovers is discussed, as are the design tradeoffs.
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Gregory Konesky, "Rovers within rovers: a hierarchical approach", Proc. SPIE 6309, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology IX, 63090F (14 September 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.679280; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.679280
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