In recent years, Ocean Worlds have garnered significant interest from the scientific community, precipitating the Europa Clipper mission and a Europa lander study. If NASA’s exploration of Ocean Worlds proceeds in family with past lunar and Martian exploration paradigms, it is likley that orbiter and static lander missions would be succeeded by surface mobility. Surface mobility on Ocean Worlds is inherently difficult to design for, given the unknown nature of their surface topographies and mechanical strengths. This project aims to assess the efficacy with which a mobile asset can perform traverses across a range of terrain-types likely to be found on Europa and Enceladus. Using the RoboSimian robot and Lab on a Chip instrument (used to evaluate chemistry and mineralogy), field trials will be performed at the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska and Devil’s Golf Course in California. RoboSimian’s highly adaptable limbs will be used to implement multiple mobility modes, including: walking, rolling, push-roll (inchworming), and sculling. The results of this project will be used to inform mobility systems design and operational considerations for future Ocean Worlds mission concepts.
Gareth Meirion-Griffith - Jet Propulsion Laboratory