26 October 2018
Field trials of a UK built Mars rover took place in the Tabernas Desert in Spain last week. The rover was remote controlled by a team a thousand miles away at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) RAL Space in Oxfordshire.
Images from PanCam (the camera on the rover which the MOC team use to make decisions about where the rover will go and what it will do)
(Credit: ESA / Airbus DS / Mullard Space Science Laboratory / LATMOS - Universite Pierre et Marie Curie / Open University / Imperial College / Natural History Museum)
The ExoFiT Mars rover testing team used a new model called ‘Charlie’, built by Airbus, to test hardware, software and to practise science operations for the future European Space Agency (ESA) ExoMars rover, which will look for life on Mars in 2021.
The Remote Control Centre (RCC) for Charlie was hosted at STFC RAL Space’s Harwell Mission Operation Centre. The RCC was home to a team of scientists and engineers to operate the rover and the instruments on board.
Dr Rain Irshad, Autonomous Systems Group Leader at STFC RAL Space said: "It's been a really exciting week. The team at Harwell were working from limited information - we created digital maps of the terrain for them and they had the data sent each day by the rover. From this they had to decide where the rover should go and what instruments it should use to get the most interesting science. This test-run was very similar to the way that rovers are operated on Mars"
Find out more about the 7 day trial on the STFC RAL Space website.
RAL Space is an integral part of STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). RAL Space carries out world-class space research and technology development with involvement in over 210 space missions.
Its Autonomous Systems Group (ASG) is comprised of a unique team of multidisciplinary engineers with expertise in space systems design, mechanical and electronics engineering as well as planning and conducting robotic operations in hazardous and challenging locations. This group brings a diverse range of technical skills that are key to the success of robotics-oriented projects and have a proven track record of delivering robust and reliable robotic platforms for hazardous and challenging environments. The group can support the full development cycle of robotics solutions including supporting and participating in international engagement projects.