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COMPLETED RESEARCH TASK
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Tumbleweed Rover Concept for in situ Martian Exploration

Description:
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A Tumbleweed rover is a quasi-spherical vehicle intended to traverse a planetary surface with a rolling and/or bouncing motion driven by the wind, much as a "Tumbleweed" is driven across the desert. As such, its trajectory is largely uncontrollable, but it offers the potential for much longer range surveys than conventional rovers. Preliminary field testing of prototype Tumbleweed designs have been performed in Alaska and Antarctica. However, these tests were performed without the ancillary meteorological information required to accurately model their behavior. The main objective of this effort is to perform a series of short field tests in
Arizona or California deserts and/or playas (a couple of days), but with proper documentation of boundary layer wind profile and topography. These effects will then be incorporated into a model that will permit a critical evaluation of the Tumbleweed rover concept.

Completion Date:  09/30/2006

Point of Contact:  Alberto Behar - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sponsored by:  Directors Research and Development Fund



Associated Publications:
  1. A. Behar, F. Carsey, J. Matthews, J. Jones, "An antarctic deployment of the NASA/JPL tumbleweed polar rover," World Automation Congress, 2004. Proceedings, July 2004, Volume 15, 28 June - 1 July 2004 Page(s):453 - 460.
  2. A. Behar, J. Matthews, F. Carsey, J. Jones, "NASA/JPL Tumbleweed Polar Rover," IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana, March 6-13, 2004, 6-Mar-2004.


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