NASA's ATHLETE Warms Up for High Desert Run (w/ Video)

Jul 30, 2010
Engineers test the ATHLETE moon rover on one of the long dirt roads found just outside JPL. Image credit: NASA

Engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are currently putting their All-Terrain, Hex-Limbed, Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) through a series of long-drive tests on the long, dirt roads found adjacent to JPL.

The JPL grounds do not include an unpaved area of sufficient size for testing such a large robot over a long distance. Some of the dirt roads in the Arroyo Seco (a wash located next to JPL) are wide enough for , and its close proximity to JPL allows the robot to be secured in its hangar between test runs.

The engineers want to test the moon rover's ability to meet a milestone of traveling at least 40 kilometers (25 miles) over 14 days under its own power. The official demonstration is slated to begin in the Arizona high desert next month.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

ATHLETE is a 1/2-scale working prototype of a robot under development to transport habitats and other cargo on the surface of the Moon or Mars. The ATHLETE concept is a level cargo deck carried by six wheels, each on the end of a configurable leg. The prototype stands approximately 4.5 meters (15 feet) tall and 4.5 meters (15 ft) wide and weighs about (about 2,300 kilograms (2.5 tons). The moves relatively slowly, with a top speed during traverse of approximately 2 kilometers per hour (1.25 mph).

Explore further: Start of dwarf planet mission delayed after small mix-up

More information: For more information about ATHLETE, including photos and video clips, visit: athlete.jpl.nasa.gov/

Related Stories

Expanding possibilities of lunar exploration

Apr 09, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Computer science professor's software innovations give NASA robotic explorer extra capabilities, without the cost in time or money to develop mechanical components.

Beyond Apollo: Moon Tech Takes a Giant Leap

Apr 09, 2009

The flight computer onboard the Lunar Excursion Module, which landed on the Moon during the Apollo program, had a whopping 4 kilobytes of RAM and a 74 KB "hard drive." In places, the craft's outer skin was ...

Free Spirit Testing Nearing Completion

Jul 31, 2009

Mars rover engineers at JPL are winding down testing of different escape maneuvers using a test rover in a sand box filled with soil to mimic the Martian surface. It is possible that in early August the first ...

Recommended for you

Can sound help us detect 'earthquakes' on Venus?

Apr 23, 2015

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures—about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead—that ...

Titan's atmosphere useful in study of hazy exoplanets

Apr 23, 2015

With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Aug 01, 2010
Neat !
I do hope that they plan to try it in a variety of sand-traps...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.