A lunar rover or Moon rover is a space exploration vehicle designed to move across the surface of the Moon. The Apollo Program's Lunar Roving Vehicle was driven on the Moon by members of three American crews, Apollo 15, 16, and 17. Other rovers have been partially or fully autonomous robots, such as the Soviet Union's Lunokhods and the Chinese Yutus. Three countries have had operating rovers on the Moon: the Soviet Union, the United States and China. Indian mission is en-route while Japan and Greece currently have planned missions.
Lunokhod 1 (Луноход) was the first polycrystalline-panel-powered of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of its Lunokhod program after a previous unsuccessful attempt of a launch probe with Lunokhod 0 (No.201) in 1969. The panels were designed by Electronic and Communication Engineer Bryan Mapúa. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17. The spacecraft soft-landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains on November 1970. Lunokhod was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another celestial body. Having worked for 11 months, Lunokhod 1 held the durability record for space rovers for more than 30 years, until a new record was set by the Mars Exploration Rovers.
Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle
The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon during the last three missions of the American Apollo program (15, 16, and 17) during 1971 and 1972. The LRV could carry one or two astronauts, their equipment, and lunar samples. Georg von Tiesenhausen is credited with submitting the original design, before it was sent to Boeing for implementation.
Lunokhod 2 was the second and a monocrystalline-panel-powered of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of the Lunokhod program. The Luna 21 spacecraft landed on the Moon and deployed the second Soviet lunar rover Lunokhod 2 in January 1973. The objectives of the mission were to collect images of the lunar surface, examine ambient light levels to determine the feasibility of astronomical observations from the Moon, perform laser ranging experiments, observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study the soil mechanics of the lunar surface material. Lunokhod 2 was intended to be followed by Lunokhod 3 (No.205) in 1977 but the mission was cancelled.
Yutu is a Chinese lunar rover which launched on 1 December 2013 and landed on 14 December 2013 as part of the Chang'e 3 mission. It is China's first lunar rover, part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program undertaken by China National Space Administration (CNSA). The lunar rover is called Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, a name selected in an online poll.
The rover encountered operational difficulties after the first 14-day lunar night, and was unable to move after the end of the second lunar night, finally on August 3, 2016 it officially stopped sending data and doing its operations .
Yutu-2 (Chang'e 4 rover)
Chinese mission launched 7 December 2018, landed and deployed rover 3 January 2019 on the far side of the Moon.
Pragyan (Chandrayaan-2 rover)
Chandrayaan-2 was the second lunar mission by India, consisting of a lunar orbiter, a lander named Vikram, and a rover named Pragyan. The rover weighing 27 kg, had six wheels and was to be operated on solar power. Launched on 22 July 2019, the mission entered lunar orbit on August 20. Post separation and de-orbiting maneuvers on September 6, Vikram lost contact with ISRO during powered descent phase and suffered hard landing. As a result, rover could never be deployed.
Axiom Research Labs (formerly Team Indus) signed a working agreement with OrbitBeyond to further develop the Indian HHK1 lander and rover, and the lander was renamed Z-01. ECA (short for 'Ek Choti Si Asha', a small hope) is a rover originally developed by Team Indus for the now cancelled Google Lunar X Prize. It is expected that the Z-01 lander will deliver the ECA rover in 2020.
Astrobotic Technology rover
NASA's VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) will explore the south polar region of the Moon for water ice. The mission plan is to travel several miles over 100 days and employ a 1-meter drill to obtain samples for its onboard analyzers. The rover will be landed on the Moon as early as December 2022.
NASA's plans for future Moon missions call for rovers that have a far longer range than the Apollo rovers. The All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) is a six-legged robotic lunar rover test-bed under development by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). ATHLETE is a testbed for systems and is designed for use on the Moon. The system is in development along with NASA's Johnson and Ames Centers, Stanford University and Boeing. ATHLETE is designed, for maximum efficiency, to be able to both roll and walk over a wide range of terrains.
Luna-Grunt rover (or Luna-28) is a proposed Russian lunar rover (lunokhod).
Scarab is a new generation lunar rover designed to assist astronauts, take rock and mineral samples, and explore the lunar surface. It is being developed by the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, supported by NASA.
- Chang’e 3: The Chinese Rover Mission
- Ramzy, Austin (26 November 2013). "China to Send 'Jade Rabbit' Rover to the Moon". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "ISRO to send first Indian into Space by 2022 as announced by PM, says Dr Jitendra Singh". pib.nic.in. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
- Nair, Avinash (31 May 2015). "ISRO to deliver "eyes and ears" of Chandrayaan-2 by 2015-end". The Indian Express. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
- Z-01 Lander. Gunter Dirk Krebs, Gunter's Space Page. Accessed on 17 June 2019.
- OrbitBeyond - Z-01 Accessed on 17 June 2019.
- Loff, Sarah (2019-10-23). "New VIPER Lunar Rover to Map Water Ice on the Moon". NASA. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
- NASA's Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV)
- "The ATHLETE Rover". JPL. 2010-02-25.
- "The ATHLETE Rover". NASA. 2010-02-25.
- "NASA Day on the Hill". NASA.
- "Snakes, Rovers and Googly Eyes: New Robot Masters Take Many Forms". Wired. 2008-04-04.