By Steve Rusakiewicz, News Writer
Last Friday, the University of Missouri Mars Rover Design Team revealed their latest offering into the Mars Society’s annual University Rover Challenge (URC). Their newest rover, Zenith, appears at face-value to be the product of four years’ worth of trial, error and analysis taken seriously by a dedicated group of students. Looking upon the 2016 rover as it rests between the team’s previous inventions, one can easily see how certain design elements recurred extensively, while others only made brief appearances. Among the elements that appear to have proven out very useful are a six-way drive system and a paddle-wheel design instead of treaded tires, allowing Zenith to propel itself through fine sand with the ease (ideally) of a paddle-boat on the Mississippi River.
This year’s URC will be hosted between June 2nd and 4th at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. Around 30 international collegiate teams have earned a place to compete at this year’s event. In 2015, Missouri S&T won fifth place in the URC and also represented the United States at the European Rover Challenge in Podzamcze, Poland. This year, the team is confident they’ve built a rover that is their best yet, as the name “Zenith” implies.
As always, the unforgiving Utah desert will serve as proving grounds for the 30 various student-designed and built rovers tasked with jobs and scenarios mimicking those encountered on typical Mars missions. Every detail matters, since these rovers are meant to model the next generation of devices that will support future unmanned and eventually manned missions. All teams are also required to submit full technical reports on their rovers in order to compete, making this competition as close to real-life professional engineering as possible.
More information about S&T’s Mars Rover Design Team may be found here: http://mst-mrdt.github.io/#
Curious about URC? Find out more at: http://urc.marssociety.org/home
Feel free to drop the team a note with interest, ideas and/or best wishes through their website.