We'll find out in a week whether our team is a MoonBots finalist. Either way, we're having fun drilling down into design issues about our rover. Since our proposed lunar landscape is covered with gray sand, we're going to analyze a Mindstorms rover prototype to see how well it performs on sand. This will tell us how fast we can safely go.
We'll send the rover forward a meter, and to the right a meter, ten times. Then we'll find the average distance from where the rover should have ended up, if there was no slippage from the sand. Then we'll repeat the whole thing with different rover configurations, to find the tradeoffs between speed and accuracy. We'll vary motor speed, and maybe try a fancier suspension.
On the real Moon, a rover can be as slow and careful as we want it to be. That's a big difference from the Apollo missions, where the astronauts were so pressed for time that they say they always ran the Lunar Rover at top speed, sometimes almost flipping over! But for a public demonstration, we'd want our rover to be reasonably fast, so as not to be boring.
Follow our team as we compete in MoonBots 2012! We are Asa, Kyle, and Matt (Captain). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org