WVU develops NASA Mars Rovers program

WVU's Majid Jaridi, Yu Gu and Kostas Sierros

Majid Jaridi, professor of industrial and management systems engineering, and Yu Gu, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, have received a three-year, USD 750,000 grant from NASA to develop ways to increase the onboard autonomy of planetary rovers. The research team, which includes assistant professors Jason Gross and Victor Fragoso, will utilize the algorithms that powered Cataglyphis, which won more than USD 850,000 in the Sample Return Challenge, as its starting point.

NASA’s Mars Rover program primary mission’s scientific goals is to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. The second step in the plan—the retrieval of those samples—is not without its challenges.

The WVU team will partner with researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mobility and Robotic Systems Section to perform the research. System integration efforts will then be performed, leading to increasingly sophisticated rover autonomy demonstrations.

Once the key capabilities are developed, the researchers will perform multiple testing campaigns in the red rock deserts of southern Utah.