On the 1st of July, six UCL students travelled to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire to compete UCL's Lunar Rover (his name is Whegory) in the @UKSEDS Rover Competition. The highly qualified team of first-year students, stood their ground against more experienced undergraduate and masters students to come out third in two of the four categories (Critical Design Review and outreach). One fantastic point to mention is the extremely robust construction that wasn't fazed by the industrial vibration test it underwent in the laboratory - meaning Whegory could survive a rocket launch!
This is a project UCL Lunar Rover have been working on for several months with the core team of Harshav Mahendran, Constantina Papavasileiou, Taha Haider, Jason Zhao, Skye Fu, Dillon Kalicharan, and Akash Doshi. All members worked extremely hard and the results showed. Lastly, we wouldn't have been able to accomplish anything without our sponsors.
The UCL Lunar Rover Team has learnt a lot about robotics through this project and are excited to mentor UCL's next year entry for this competition as well as apply the skills we have learnt into future projects to come.
The UKSEDS Lunar Rover competition involves 3 main tasks to replicate a real lunar mission.
Entering The Crater
Based on a real planned lunar mission, the rover will be able to move from the lip of the Shackleton Crater, up and down slopes to a designated point. Due to its location, and the minimal seasonal tilt of the Moon, the base of the crater has not seen sunlight for millions of years and it is theorised that this allows deposits of ice and other volatiles to survive which were delivered by millions of years of comet impacts.
Retrieving a soil sample
A soil sample must be retrieved from the designated sample site within the crater. By discovering a soil sample's contents, we can determine the site's practicality for a Lunar base. Ice is seen as a critical resource for the establishment of a permanently manned Lunar base as it can be used to create drinking water, air, and split into oxygen and hydrogen for use as a rocket fuel.
Returning to the Lander
The rover must then return itself with the soil sample to the starting point. The mission is complete when the rover returns to this point. As the lander was solar powered and was too heavy to give a locomotion system, it was designed to stay at the rim of the crater where sunlight is plentiful and the nights are short. Upon returning to the lander, the rover's soil sample would be tested.
Information gathered from the UKSEDS Lunar Rover Competition Rules and Requirements 2017-2018 document.