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The Highland Terrain Hopper (HOPTER): Concept and usecases of a new locomotion system for the exploration of lowgravity Solar System bodies
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2016 (English)In: Acta Astronautica, ISSN 0094-5765, E-ISSN 1879-2030, Vol. 121, 200-220 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Comprehensive understanding of the principles governing the geological activity of theEarth was obtained in continental and oceanic mountains. It is not expected that theprinciples governing the overall geologic activity and evolution of other planetary bodiessuch as Mars will be understood if exploration is limited to nearlyflat terrains, eitherimposed by the used exploration platform capabilities, the risk of getting stuck, or by thetime required to cross the border of a landing ellipse. Surface exploration of mountains isadditionally to be coupled to two- or three-dimensional geophysical surveys to correlatethe surface observations with deeper processes. On the small bodies where ultra-lowgravity prevails, the weight of wheel-driven platforms is not sufficient to generate thefriction at the contact with the ground that is required to trigger motion of the roverrelative to the ground. Under such circumstances, hopping is one of the mobility solutions.We present a new locomotion system, the hopter platform, which is adapted to thesechallenges on Solar System bodies having a gravityfield lower than on Earth. The hopter isa robust, versatile and highly manoeuvrable platform based on simple mechanical con-cepts that accurately jumps to distances of metres to tens of metres and more, dependingon the gravityfield of the studied body. Its low mass of 10 kg (including up to 3 kg ofminiaturised payload), makes it possible to simultaneously launch several hopters to workas a fractionated explorer at a very competitive cost. After reviewing the payload that maybe placed onboard hopters, we illustrate the scientific capabilities of hopters and hopternetworks in performing basic geologic observations at distinct study sites in a variety ofgeological environments, obtaining data along steep geological cross sections, surveyinggeophysical anomalies in the subsurface, prospecting resources, monitoring micro-environments, meteorological events, and geodetic deformation, or characterizing dustactivity on Mars, the Moon, and Phobos.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 121, 200-220 p.
Keyword [en]
Planetary locomotion, Planetary geology, Geophysical surveying, Mars, Valles Marineris, Moon
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Research subject
Engineering Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-274725OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-274725DiVA: diva2:897396
Available from: 2016-01-25 Created: 2016-01-25 Last updated: 2016-02-19

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