Design, Construction & Operations Plan for the Marsupial Rover

Dr Graham Mann

Murdoch University

--- Abstract - Full Paper - Profile ---

Abstract: An essential component of any currently conceived human Mars mission is a pressurised, automated vehicle capable of safely and comfortably carrying a small crew of explorers distances of tens to hundreds of kilometres from the landing site. The design of such a sophisticated vehicle presents many technical questions and challenges. As a practical contribution to the needed design effort, Project Marsupial aims to make available to the MSA a practical, affordable, 4WD off-road vehicle, which can be used for simulating exploratory sorties and for raising public awareness of the value of a Mars mission. Basic issues, design parameters and ideas for the Marsupial Rover - currently under construction in Western Australia - are described. A three-stage construction plan is then sketched out. Finally, a series of eight surface simulation operations for the vehicle are proposed.

PROFILE: Dr Mann is an engineer, specializing in robotics and human-machine interactions. After taking a psychology degree and doing research in psychophysiology at the University of WA’s Biofeedback Laboratory, he moved to the University of NSW, to study for a Master’s degree in cognitive science, and later a PhD in artificial intelligence. Dr Mann has designed and built a number of innovative robots, including a walking biped and a domestic floor-cleaning machine. He is presently overseeing the design and construction of Project Marsupial and was the lead engineer on the first Project Jarntimarra expedition in 2001.