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Generation Zero of JPL Planetary Rovers

12 Jul 2018, 11:00 UTC
Generation Zero of JPL Planetary Rovers NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has a fabled history of planetary rovers. But how do you start such a program? In 1972, I participated in the first small effort to bootstrap JPL's rover program. Dr. Ewald Heer oversaw a project to assemble a proof-of-concept rover from existing components, film a demo of the rover operating in a simulated planetary surface, and use the demo to sell the idea to funding authorities. Since this project came before the first generation of "real" rovers at JPL, I like to call it Generation Zero. Unfortunately, I have practically no documentation from the project; everything here is based on my memory.

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