Planetary Rovers

Overview of Planetary Rovers

Following successful probes and Landers to the Moon, Mars and Venus, the next step was to build a Lander that could travel to areas of interest. The first was Lunokhod 1 which landed in 1970. This Rover was completely remote controlled and travelled over 6 miles taking photographs of the Lunar surface and performed 25 soil analysis digs using its x-ray fluorescence spectrometer.

Since then Space has incorporated more and more automation, allowing Rovers to react to situations automatically. The largest Rover currently on another planet is Curiosity.

Lunokhod 1 Rover

LUNOKHOD1 Rover

The Curiosity Rover

The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in 2012 and has travelled over 8 miles to date. Learn about its adventure in the Pahrump Hills region of Gale Crater on Mars – eyes.nasa.gov/curiosity
curiosity-rover

LEGO Rovers

For many years robotic rovers were only available to researchers and engineers, but as the technology has shrunk and got cheaper more people have been able to access the technology and in 1998 following ten years of design with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) LEGO released the LEGO Mindstorms programmable brick, an intelligent brick that enthusiasts could use to design and build their own robots and rovers.

These Robots can be used to highlight the benefits of automated Mars Rovers and the use of sensors to carry out unmanned experiments.

ev3-rover

Play the Game

Start the Game – Click anywhere on the left to start. Press the Green Flag to restart the Game
How to Control – Use the Cursor Keys to Control LEGO Mars Rover Motors
The ULTRASONIC sensor measures DISTANCES in cm
The GYRO sensor measures ANGLES in Degrees
The TEMPERATURE sensor TEMPERATURES in °C
The COLOUR sensor detects the COLOUR of the surface

Scratch FlagACTIVITY. Record your own readings on a graph from the EV3 Rover Activity Game above (Press T to start the Timer) and record changing temperatures.

We do not see the Rover on Mars, we can only see the data it returns for example:

ev3-temperature-sensor Virtual Data

Compare this to actual Mars Rover Temperature sensor Data

Mars Temperature

The above data is taken from the NASA Curiosity Website – mars.nasa.gov

Billion-Pixel View From Curiosity at Rocknest

Interactive view of Mars from Curiosity Rover – mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/interactives/billionpixel

Rover RaceActive Rovers

Curiosity and Opportunities are the only two rovers currently active on Mars, as of 01/18/2017.

Here is an image showing Rovers and how far they have travelled, Opportunity is currently the longest running and furthest traveled rover on another planet (or Moon).

Further Materials, Resources & Information

Below you will find more resources and external websites related to this lesson.

Full STEAM Ahead – Space Exploration Education Grant

UK Space AgencyThis lesson has been produced as part of the Full STEAM Ahead Project with the UK Space Agency. We are one of eight organisations across the UK to be awarded to deliver and produce exciting new education outreach activities and projects. The UK Space Agency are delighted to be able to support these projects, which represent a diverse selection of cross-curricular activities that meet it’s education objectives in encouraging children to take up STEAM subjects, raise awareness of careers in space-related areas, and raise awareness of the UK’s exploration programme.


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