Mars Semi-Autonomous Rover Operations Investigation

Photograph of MSSS SR2 rover, operating near the Salton Sea in 2002.

Mars is a geologically diverse planet. There is no single, magical landing site to which a single rover, lander, or sample return system can be sent that will answer all of the science questions about Mars and its history.

An alternative approach to the present mode of Mars exploration, in which only a few vehicles are sent per decade, is to send more, smaller, and less costly rovers to a wider range of landing sites.

The goal of MSSS's Mars Semi-Autonomous Rover Operations investigation was to conduct a suite of three semi-autonomous rover field tests over Mars-like terrain with traverse ranges of greater than 10 km (6.2 mi). The above picture shows the Malin Space Science Systems/University of Oklahoma SR2 rover during a field test near the Salton Sea, California, in June 2002. The SR2 rover, sporting a suite of upgrades and outfitted with science instruments (color stereo panoramic camera and a visible/near-infrared spectrometer), was used to conduct field tests in 2005 through 2007.

MSSS's Semi-Autonomous Rover Operations investigation was funded by the NASA/JPL Mars Exploration Program Advanced Technology Program. The rover operations team included: the PI, Michael A. Ravine (MSSS), James F. Bell III (Cornell University), Michael C. Malin (MSSS), and David P. Miller (University of Oklahoma).

MPEG "movie" of June 2002 Field Test

University of Oklahoma School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering -- Intelligent Robotics Lab

NASA/JPL Mars Technology Program Home Page