Basicly we copied the wheels design from older rover-designs. It is a full-metal-construction with elastic spokes. So the whole wheel can transform itself into an egg. Small bumps can easily be absorbed. To enforce this effekt and provide additional protection for the rim, we added five exchangeable cushions.
These cevlar-covered foam-cushions can be pulled over the rim like socks. An elastic bolt fiexes the cushion. Large handles on the cushions and on the rim allow to seize them easy even in an EVA-Suit. By dividing the cushion into five "cake-pieces", space for spare-parts is minimized. More than one or two cushions at a time will not be damaged. If the rim itself is damaged, a large buckle in the centre releases the wheel and it can be taken off easily without any tool.
Due to limited agility and lacking comfort in EVA-Suits we decided to take advantage of the Head-Up-Display technology. Almost all functions in and on the vehicle can be controlled remotely in the astronauts helmet. A mixture of speech, eye- and handmovement will insure comfortable navigation in the HUD's data-tree. Everybody can design its own, individual desktop.
The whole tree can be found in our documentation. Some examples:
#1: check comrades live-support. It is vital to check livesigns of your teammate in certain situations. Few people will have the courage to tell the truth about their condition and thus will endanger the whole mission.
#2: turn on night-vision. Bad sight-conditions may occur (dusty times on mars:o) )
#3: check for oxygene. Several scientific measurements can be made to check environment
#4: change vehicles direction. Several waypoints can be shown in the display and moved if neccesary
#5: manage communication. Communication (audio and visual) is vital.
To exclude cross-contermination, we decided not to use air-locks to get samples into the habitat but use a packaging system. The samples then can simply be carried into the habitat through the austronauts airlock. The foiled sample's hull will be cleaned the same time the EVA-suit is. In the habitat, the sample is put through an airlock into the laboratory and is then unpacked for further examination. As an airlock weights about 200kg, we just have to spend about 20kg for the packaging system and the required foils (which can be made of a material which rotts to earth or can be re-used somehow) on the vehicle.
Alternatively we thought of a reusable package or box. Inflateable, lightweight and flexible it could be a good alternative and help save resources.
Most scientific material, all the samples and -last not least- spare parts will be stored in the container. As we want to maximize flexibility of 'Sandstalker', the container is exchangeable. The fork-like strukture beneath the container is able to pick it up and attach it to the main body. Other kinds of containers may be interesting, such as an open one to put bigger samples on it or a container euqipped with a huge drilling-device to get deep-core samples.
Some words about the design
This topic was extremely interesting for us, because of its completely different environmental conditions. We wanted to succeed in introducing a new style of design, not only a horizontal but a vertical evolution. At the beginning, we were not quite sure, if it is possible for us, to work on such a complex projekt without much pre-knowledge. But thanks to the persons who supported us, we were successfull.
'Sandstalker's' design is mainly influenced by some factors: lightweightness, agility, felxibility and security. The spider-like strukture shows the incredible maneuverability and emphasises our picture of an all-terrain-vehicle, not stopable by any obstacle. It seems to be able to walk above stones, the huge tires seem able to crush stones, but look lightweight on the other hand. 'Sandstalker' drives above the sand, it stalks, does not dig through it. The legs make you think of an insekt - strong and endurable. The body is fairly compact and does not allow any dust to waste vital functions. The seats between the front-legs give you a feeling of safety and security. The slightly raising top-line gives 'Sandstalker' a direction. It is eager to show it's abilitys and wants to explore the unknown planet mars and protects and helps its explorers.
'Sandstalker' is a study, not a prototype. We found some new solutions - working or not - which hopefully enrichen the knowledge of NASA, ESA and all other space agencies working on the "mission to mars". We know, that most of our designs are science-fiction. Hopefully the pictures we created helps people to understand about the fascination space and especially mars had on us and gives them a bit of the energy we had when thinking about it and creates new fantasies in their mind.
All the pictures shown and ideas mentioned are mental property of Florian Gulden and Metin Seyrek and are under copyright (c), March 2002, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany.
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