Monday, January 9, 2012

Brown School of Engineering to Host a One-Day Planetary MicroRover Workshop

On February 16, 2012, MicroRover will be hosted by the Brown University School of Engineering (Barus and Holley Room 190). MicroRover continues our Space Horizons series of intense one-day workshops, this year bringing planetary researchers together with engineering innovators to discuss the design and application of microvehicles to planetary science missions.

The majority of rovers sent to other planets have offered significant mission utility by deploying multiple-instrument packages.  On the other hand, rovers are becoming increasingly large and complex with longer development times and higher engineering costs. This leads directly to greater risk-aversion that easily spirals into even higher costs and increasing risk-aversion.  With so much riding on each mission, 'safe' landing sites must be selected with exceeding care and ongoing operations undertaken with ever-greater caution at every juncture -- thereby limiting exploration opportunities.

Smaller rovers may offer less capability individually, yet may also provide this utility with far less cost and risk exposure, particularly if large numbers are deployed.  In particular, advantages may include:
  • Unit costs that are lower due to simpler designs and the economies of higher production volumes.
  • More than one point of interest can be studied simultaneously.
  • Instruments may be distributed among specialized vehicles that work together.
  • Spare rovers can be kept in reserve during a mission, allowing consideration of higher risk operations.
  • A larger rover might act as a "mother ship" to transport families of microrovers to new sites of interest.
Through formal presentations, presenter Q & A, expert panels and informal venues, our workshop will stimulate a wide variety of discussions on topics relevant to the subject of microrover development and mission applications.

Participation is limited to 50. There is no formal registration process or fee for students and faculty of Brown University, and we ask only that you contact us ahead of time to ensure that there will be sufficient space.  Planetary researchers and robotics engineers from other institutions are invited to register online. Student sponsorship for overnight accommodation is available to student from other universities with sponsorship from the NASA Rhode Island Space Grant Consortia.

For additional information, please contact:  or visit the workshop website at: