RAVEN II An Unpressurized Human Roving Vehicle to Enhance Exploration

TitleRAVEN II An Unpressurized Human Roving Vehicle to Enhance Exploration
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBrannan J, Carlsen C, Ciarleglio C, Davis KP, Akin DL
Conference NameRASC-AL Conference
Date Published2013
PublisherUniversity of Maryland
KeywordsRASC-AL, Raven, Rover, Vehicle

Human return to the moon, mining a near Earth asteroid and sending the first person to Mars are among the future human missions that NASA is currently considering. Crucial to having a successful scientific return from each of these destinations is the ability to efficiently transport the astronaut and payload across the desired operational environment. The entire purpose of developing missions to various celestial bodies is to gain new scientific knowledge from the unknown site, and without the ability to expand past the walking traverse distance of an unassisted astronaut, it would take an unreasonable number of missions to sufficiently explore even a small fraction of an entire planetary body. For this reason, the University of Maryland 2013 graduate RASC-AL team proposes the development of an adaptable rover mission architecture that is capable of extending the capabilities of the astronauts while on an extravehicular activity (EVA). The current mobility unit design, RAVEN II is a rover utilizing a robotic manipulator that seeks to augment an astronaut’s mobility, expand the possible range of exploration and enhance the ability of an astronaut to complete various science objectives. 

The underlying impetus for this study is the initial phase of exploration at any given destination. Future human exploration programs are nearly certain to be highly cost constrained, which operationally leads to tight limitations in payload mass delivered to the exploration site. Rather than conduct what would be practically a stand-alone mission to transport a 4000-6000 kg pressurized rover to the exploration site, it is envisioned that sortie-class missions would be sent to a number of widely separated sites of scientific interest, each carrying at least two of the RAVEN II-class small unpressurized rovers. By providing pairs of rovers each capable of carrying two astronauts in a contingency, exploration traverses can be conducted far beyond the “walk-back” limits imposed on Apollo, as there will be two independent systems each capable of returning the crew to the landing vehicle following a rover failure.