Now that the Sojourner rover on Mars has shown the world that a small microrover on the surface of a planet can accomplish many useful science tasks, what does the future hold?
Charles "Chuck" Weisbin, manager of the Robotics and Mars Exploration Technology Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will present "Robotic Explorers: Enablers of Exciting New Discoveries" at a free public lecture to be held twice this month, on Thursday, Sept.17 at 7 p.m. in JPL's von Karman Auditorium, and on Friday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in The Forum at Pasadena City College. Reservations are not necessary, but seating is on a first come, first served basis. Parking is free.
In his illustrated lecture, Weisbin will discuss exciting examples of robotic technology, including machines that burrow down through surfaces, fly to deposit payloads in different geological regions, "hop" for many tens of meters in gravity-free environments, and roam planetary surfaces for almost a year to select appropriate samples to return to Earth. These robots will range in size from "nanorovers," which weigh less than 100 grams for full robotic systems, to microrovers, weighing from five to 40 kilograms. Inflatable systems from rovers and antennas to solar arrays and solar sails, all compact as origami when stowed, will expand on arrival to larger volumes.
The connection between new research, terrestrial demonstrations and future missions will also be discussed, along with ways that robotic technologies enable sample selection and sample return to Earth from Mars and small bodies such as comets and asteroids. Further information about JPL's robotics activities is available at http://RMET.jpl.nasa.gov/RMET/ .
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology. This lecture is part of the monthly von Karman Lecture Series, sponsored by the JPL Media Relations Office. A web site about the series is located at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/lecture/. For further details, call (818) 354-5011.
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