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

July 30th, 2010 in Astronomy & Space / Space Exploration
Engineers test the ATHLETE moon rover on one of the long dirt roads found just outside JPL. Image credit: NASA


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.

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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).

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

Provided by JPL/NASA

"NASA's ATHLETE Warms Up for High Desert Run (w/ Video)." July 30th, 2010. http://phys.org/news199715934.html