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In-situ Exploration and Sample Return: Autonomous Planetary Mobility

Return to the Autonomous Planetary Mobility Page

A virtual rover is pictured on a three-dimensional map made from real Mars imagery.  This image represents the rovers' ability to use its auto-navigation system to drive itself.  The topography of the scene is reflected in a succession of bumps and flat areas that are color-coded to identify their inherent threat to the rovers.

In order to drive themselves the rovers take stereo images, from which 3-D terrain maps are generated automatically by the rover software. Traversability and safety is then determined from the height and density of rocks or steps, excessive tilts and roughness of the terrain. Dozens of possible paths are considered before the rover chooses the shortest, safest path toward the programmed geographical goal.
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