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UTEP Engineers Help NASA Visualize Next Generation Lunar Rover


New lunar rover that will be used for a planned mission.

Photo courtesy of NASA

The Chariot (shown above)
is a new lunar rover that will be used for a
planned mission to the moon in 2020.
Engineering students at The University of Texas at El Paso built a model of the new lunar rover that will be used for a planned mission to the moon in 2020 using state of the art rapid prototyping. The scale model provides a realistic 3-dimensional model for visualizing the proposed lunar rover.

Dubbed the Chariot by the design team at the Johnson Space Center, the rover will make it easier for astronauts to explore the moon. The Chariot is a truck with no doors, windows or seats. Each of its six wheels has independent steering and the pilot’s perch, containing both the driver and the steering wheel, can rotate a full 360 degrees. The Chariot measures approximately 12 feet by 8 feet wide.

Under contract with a large aerospace company, UTEP engineering students transformed NASA CAD (computer aided design) files into a solid prototype of the Chariot using technologies from the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation.

According to Ryan Wicker, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, rapid prototyping allows the center to provide the quality of prototyping needed for complex projects like this one. “Rapid prototyping technologies build complex 3D parts one layer at a time, and these technologies have advanced considerably over the past decade in manufacturing capabilities and available materials, so much so that they are beginning to directly build end-use parts for various industries. It’s an exciting time to be involved in this industry and we very much enjoy being able to educate our students in these technologies through involvement in real-world engineering projects.”

UTEP engineering students created a prototype of the new lunar rover, Chariot

Photo courtesy of UTEP

UTEP engineering students created a prototype of the new
lunar rover, Chariot, using rapid prototyping
technologies from the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation.

The multi-million dollar contract was secured by the Institute for Manufacturing and Materials Management (IM3) at UTEP. The institute, which will soon be renamed the Research Institute for Manufacturing and Engineering Systems (RIMES), has broadened its mission to include a systems engineering approach to research and industry.

“This is a clear example of real-world experience for our students,” said Oscar Salcedo, IM3 Coordinator. “I wish all of our students had the same kind of opportunity. I can see a real difference in students when they come back from an internship or have worked in the industry for a period of time.”