Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type



Mechanical Engineering

Director of Thesis

Dr. Wout De Backer


Planetary rovers, vehicles that can traverse challenging terrain, have excelled in their exploration missions to other celestial bodies. They have been especially suitable for exploring Mars, as rovers such as Opportunity and Perseverance have collected valuable geological, atmospheric, seismic, and magnetic information from the Martian surface. Rovers will remain vital in future space exploration missions, and it is necessary to understand their design and functionality. This paper focuses on the design and prototyping of a miniature rover that can survive the rough Martian terrain while collecting and submitting environmental data for scientific analysis. The design is based off proven Martian rover designs by NASA. To protect the vehicle from the typical atmospheric entry conditions encountered by mars missions, the rover is contained within a protective aeroshell. The proposed design enables the aeroshell to be mounted to and deployed from an amateur rocketry booster, so its functionality can be tested. The aeroshell protects the rover during descent before detachment and is representative of an entry vehicle undergoing aerobraking. Once landed and removed from the entry vehicle, the rover is self-powered through solar panels and controlled remotely by an operator. Its chassis design gives it the ability to withstand relatively large inclinations while not relying on spring suspension, allowing it to traverse Mars-like terrain. The rover contains a camera that can record HD video of its surroundings and transmit the video to an external receiver. The proposed rover and aeroshell designs provide insight and lessons learned into Martian rover and entry-vehicle design and could be applied to future rover missions.

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All work undertaken in this thesis is the original work of the authors. © 2024, The Authors