Sunday, 11 December 2011
Fake rocks and BAe Mars rover
An autonomous navigation system that will enable a future planetary rover vehicle to be in complete control of its own actions as it explores the surface of Mars has been designed by top-calibre scientists and engineers at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Earlier this year a courtyard garden at the laboratories was converted to resemble a Martian landscape and to aid testing of the rover, a large number of our artificial rocks were used. As the rocks were lightweight, they were easily moved to make different configurations. The courtyard garden was little used and staff have plenty of other spaces to relax. The only regular user of the courtyard was an owl that perched in the same tree in the same spot. That was obvious as a mini 'volcano' of detritus could be seen at the base of the tree. That was the only one tree in the courtyard and it was thought that the tree would remain in place as the artificial Mars landscape was created. This could have lead to some confusion had a journalist left out the word 'artificial' when writing about the laboratories' Mars landscape. The rover vehicles and rocks were later packed up and sent off to a quarry in a far off land for further testing.
Above: Rock A1 with Robotic rover "indie" being tested on the simulated Martian landscape.
Right: BAe Robotic rover hogging the limelight on the simulated Martian landscape with boulder E and rock C1 in bit part roles.
Below: boulder A and rock E1 (with the giveaway flat base showing. Should have put soil around the base!)