A team led by a Mechanical Engineering graduate won the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) Lunar Rover Competition.
The aim of the competition, which ran over the course of one academic year, was to design and manufacture a rover for entering permanently shadowed craters on the lunar southern pole. The rover had to be capable of retrieving a soil sample as large as possible and to return it to the landing site for analysis.
Morgan Nightingale, a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate, led the cross-departmental Imperial team and tailored his final year project to study the vibrational analysis of the rover.
Imperial’s competition entry brought together projects from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the ICSEDS (Imperial College Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) society. A team of Mech Eng students (Abdelgader Eldaw, Aditya Koirala, Deane Harris-Snowdon Matthew Homburg and Roshan Hansla) designed an efficient soil sampling mechanism for the rover as part of their third year Design, Make and Test project.
Seven student teams from across the UK reached the final stage of the Lunar Rover Competition. The rovers were tested at the RAL Space robotics trials area on terrain similar to that found on the Moon, and had to withstand the stresses and strains of launch in the vibration test facility.
The Imperial team won first place as well as an additional prize for the best Critical Design Review. Team leader Morgan said “the rover competition has been an amazing and insightful experience throughout the year! We are so thrilled to have won and look forward to improving on our design for next year.”
The Lunar Rover Competition is inspired by past and future missions from NASA and the European Space Agency, and challenges undergraduate students to solve engineering problems using industry-standard techniques, tools and processes. Winners were announced in July; more information on the competition can be found on the UKSEDS website.
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