Hypothesized Surface: Robotic Explorer – NAU


Northern Arizona University


Nickel Class (2020 – 2021)


John Dynda, Mechanical Engineering
Isaac Anderson, Mechanical Engineering
Eric Sean Sullivan, Mechanical Engineering
Chad Schaefer, Mechanical Engineering
Jacob Sasse, Mechanical Engineering
Kate Collette, Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Sarah Oman, Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering, NAU


The NASA Psyche Mission is set to launch in 2022 and arrive at the asteroid in 2026. It is an orbiter mission and will not land on the surface. It is possible to imagine, however, that after learning about Psyche from orbit, there may be scientists and engineers interested in proposing a subsequent mission to actually land on the asteroid to explore its surface. Considering the range of hypothesized surfaces that might be found at Psyche (along with other constraints such as its gravity), the team designed a robotic explorer capable of efficiently traversing each of the hypothesized surfaces and able to adapt to each of them mid-traverse. Hypothesized surfaces at Psyche may include: mostly flat metallic surface, flat metallic with metal and/or rocky debris, rough/high-relief metallic and/or rocky terrain, high-relief metallic crater walls.

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Northern Arizona University Capstone Courses. The work is a result of the Psyche Student Collaborations component of NASA’s Psyche Mission (https://psyche.asu.edu). “Psyche: A Journey to a Metal World” [Contract number NNM16AA09C] is part of the NASA Discovery Program mission to solar system targets. Trade names and trademarks of ASU and NASA are used in this work for identification only. Their usage does not constitute an official endorsement, either expressed or implied, by Arizona State University or National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of ASU or NASA.