Before returning people to the lunar surface in 2024 as part of the Artemis program, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to send several robotic missions to the satellite. One of them will be the CubeRover project, during which a small wheeled rover will go to the surface of the moon.
NASA is partnering with Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for this project. According to Astrobotic, their joint development is the most compact and lightest ever commercial planetary rover. It weighs only about 4 kilograms and is no larger than a shoebox.
Recently, the US Aerospace Agency reported that the compact robotic rover has traveled to Kennedy Space Center for testing. They will be held at the Laboratory of Granular Mechanics and Regolith Environment, where the lunar surface features are recreated to test the capabilities of future lunar rovers.
As part of the upcoming tests, which will last for several months, NASA engineers will find out what types of surfaces, slopes and climbs the compact wheeled robot is ready for. In addition, its roll-over protection system will be tested. The rover will be endowed with the ability to bounce so that it can get back on wheels if it gets into a difficult situation while already on the surface of the moon.
The CubeRover is designed to be used in multiple satellite landing missions. Having reached there first and having completed one of the tasks assigned to him, he will wait on the surface for the next mission, and then continue to work already in its composition.
NASA also said it has selected Astrobotic as a commercial partner for an upcoming mission to search for ice concentrations on the moon’s surface. This information will be very useful for subsequent manned missions to the moon.
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