Plowing for Controlled Steep Crater Descents
Controlling slip is crucial to reliable descent of steep unconsolidated slopes such as those found in lunar craters. The ability to enter these craters provides opportunities to explore potential in-situ resources, such as water ice. We present a rover prototype with a novel, actuated, omni-directional plowing device and control method for maneuvering on steep slopes. Data from field experiments show reliable control during descent on loose sand slopes up to 40°, with twenty-fold reduction in downhill slip and a threefold reduction in slip during point turns. In particular, the data indicates that plowing eliminates slip caused by shear failure created in angle-of-repose material.