Image: Rover test in darkness

June 8, 2017
Credit: GMV

ESA's Rover Autonomy Testbed rover is being run in near darkness by Spain's GMV company to simulate the low Sun angles experienced at the Moon's poles.

Permanently shadowed craters around the lunar north and south poles are tempting targets for future robotic missions, seeking and other volatiles believed to be deep frozen in the soil.

Laboratory testing took place as part of ESA's Lunar Scenario Concept Validation and Demonstration (Lucid) project. Now, as a next step, this and a second – ESA's Heavy Duty Planetary Rover – have travelled to Tenerife in the Canary Islands for day and night testing in the volcanic, Moon-like environment of Teide National Park.

The two rovers carry navigation aids to work in both light and dark, including stereo cameras, lights, GPS, laser rangers and radar-like lidar. They can build digital 3D maps from these various sensors for both autonomous and teleoperated steering.

Explore further: Image: Rover versus rocks

Related Stories

Image: Rover versus rocks

December 2, 2015

An array of strange, sharp-edged rocks appeared suddenly on a sandy beach near ESA's technical centre as part of an ambitious test of robotic rover technology.

Image: Lunar ice drill

May 12, 2016

A drill designed to penetrate 1–2 m into the lunar surface is envisaged by ESA to fly to the Moon's south pole on Russia's Luna-27 lander in 2020.

Could the next planetary rover come from Canada?

October 30, 2012

The Canadian Space Agency is well known for its robotics but they've recently expanded from robotic arms to building prototypes for five new rovers, designed for future lunar and Mars missions. They range from microrovers ...

NASA Tests Lunar Rovers and Oxygen Production Technology

November 13, 2008

NASA has concluded nearly two weeks of testing equipment and lunar rover concepts on Hawaii's volcanic soil. The agency's In Situ Resource Utilization Project, which studies ways astronauts can use resources found at landing ...

Recommended for you

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

October 18, 2017

Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic ...

0 comments

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.