Friday saw the Canadian Space Agency unveil a fleet of prototype rovers that will be the forerunners of machines that go to the Moon or Mars.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan announced in the 2009 budget provided $110 million over three years for advance robotics and space exploration technologies, of which $60 million was allocated to the Exploration Surface Mobility project. These funds were invested in a total of 33 challenging high-technology contracts to over 40 Canadian companies and a dozen universities, which have spawned a multitude of rover designs and analytical equipment.
The rovers vary in size from 30kg micro rovers designed to access areas the larger rovers cannot go to behemoth automated lunar rovers that weigh over a tonne when fully loaded with a scientific payload. There are also a variety of smaller rovers designed for exploring Mars – at 250kg they are about 40% heavier than the Spirit rover that NASA sent to Mars in 2004.
Other equipment generated by the funding include some standardised computing modules that are already in use on NASA vehicles, fuel cells, equipment simulators, microscopes and drilling systems.
This article summarised from releases from the Canadian Space Agency here.