Mars Rover

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My daughter Rachel and I constructed a small version of the Mars rover for her 6th grade science project. After some extensive research on the "rocker-bogie" suspension system, we constructed a fairly functional set of linkages with the K'nex set that demonstrate how the 6 wheels can handle uneven terrain.

We couldn't find any proper engineering diagrams of this more recent system, and it does have some differences from the previous Mars rover "Sojurner". We watched several video segments from the NASA site, and were able to understand all the linkages except for how the rocker-bogies attached to the body. We concluded a single body pivot, combined with a balanced tension system would allow the two sides to operate independently and still allow the body to stay mostly level. The real system might have an active control on the angle that the main rocker arm makes with the body.

By keeping the proportions close to the real rover, we were able to demonstrate that the suspension mechanism can scale obstacles over twice the height of the wheels.


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Ralph L. Vinciguerra - 2005-01-25