Exploiting the SherpaTT Rover Active Suspension System to Enable Optimal Solar Array Orientation and Inclination for Long Traverses in Martian Environment

The rover SherpaTT has been deployed in several field experiments where it was put under test within natural and unstructured Mars analogue terrain with respect to general morphology and geology. The rover displayed the ability to cope with natural terrain and to fulfill the task of being an exploration and sampling rover. Currently, the rover is prepared for further autonomous long distance traverses in terrain akin to the Martian environment. However, it features a fueled power generator which cannot be employed in Martian missions thus limiting the system's autonomous mission lifetime to the discharge rate of its two LiPo batteries.
As the rover is meant to approach a higher TRL, further development is required on its electrical power subsystem if it is to operate in long term missions. The thesis explores solar array configurations for the a Mars environment in order to guide future design iterations to navigate the topography of this planetary surface. The constraints imposed from the active suspension system with flexible footprints and varying heights of structural parts of the legs are considered in the design phase.
Initial solar array sizing requirements are derived from Mars mission sites, Iani Chaos and Ismenius Cavus, that will impose power storage and consumption constraints based on available daily insolations. The solar array design will be driven by the use the rover's active suspension system as a solar tracking mechanism. An alternative use of the wheeled leg system is thus presented for a use case that goes beyond the obvious scenario of negotiating complex terrains such as steep slopes. Specifically, the findings demonstrate traverse and mass reductions gains that are obtained with a suspension system driven orientation and inclination capable solar array surface when compared to sizing constraints inherent to a horizontal configuration.


Raum A 1.03, Robert-Hooke-Str. 1 in Bremen

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