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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

CubeRover is a class of planetary rover with a standardized modular format meant to accelerate the pace of space exploration. The idea is equivalent to that of the successful CubeSat format, with standardized off-the-shelf components and architecture to assemble small units that will be all compatible, modular, and inexpensive.[1]

The rover class concept is being developed by Astrobotic Technology in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, and it is partly funded by NASA awards.[1] A Carnegie Mellon University initiative - completely independent of NASA awards - developed Iris, the first flightworthy cuberover. Its 2022 lunar mission will make CMU the first university in the world, and the first American entity, to successfully develop and pilot a lunar rover.[2]



The idea is to create a practical modular concept similar that used for CubeSats and apply it to rovers, effectively creating a new standardized architecture of small modular planetary rovers with compatible parts, systems, and even instruments so that each mission can be easily tailored to its objectives.[1][3][4] The rovers are expendable and do not use solar arrays for electrical power, depending solely on non-rechargeable batteries. This allows it to be lighter, have a larger cooling radiator panel for electronics, and have a simpler avionics design.[5]

The CubeRover program intends that standardizing small rover design with a common architecture will open access to planetary bodies for companies, governments, and universities around the world at a low cost, while increasing functionality, just as the CubeSat has in Earth orbit.[3] This would motivate other members of the space exploration community to develop new systems and instruments that are all compatible with the CubeRover's architecture.[1][3]


Mission typeTechnology demonstrator
OperatorAstrobotic Lab and Carnegie Mellon University
COSPAR ID Edit this at Wikidata
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeRobotic lunar rover
ManufacturerPlanetary Robotics Lab[8]
Dry mass2 kg (4.4 lb)[citation needed]
DimensionsHeight: 19 cm[citation needed]
Start of mission
Launch date2022[9] on the Peregrine lander[2]
RocketVulcan Centaur
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-41
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Moon rover
Landing sitePlanned: Lacus Mortis
Two cameras with 1936 × 1456 resolution

In May 2017 Astrobotic Technology, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, were selected by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to receive a $125,000 award[10] to develop a small lunar rover architecture capable of performing small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. During Phase I, the team built a 2-kg rover and performed engineering studies to determine the architecture of a novel chassis, power, computing systems, software and navigation techniques.

In March 2018, the team was awarded funds to move on to Phase II,[1][3] and under this agreement, Astrobotic and CMU were to produce a flight-ready rover with a mass of approximately 2 kg (4.4 lb).

In future missions, CubeRovers may be designed to take advantage of lander-based systems to shelter for the cold lunar night, that lasts for 14 Earth days.[3] Similarly, future larger CubeRovers may be able to incorporate thermal insulation and systems qualified for ultra-low temperatures.[3]

CMU students developed the first flightworthy cuberover, Iris. Iris will fly to the Moon on Astrobotic's Peregrine lander[11] in 2022.


  1. ^ a b c d e Campbell, Lloyd (18 March 2018). "Astrobotic wins NASA award to produce small lunar rover". Spaceflight Insider. Archived from the original on 2019-08-14.
  2. ^ a b "Carnegie Mellon Robot, Art Project To Land on Moon in 2021". Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. June 6, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Leonard, David (16 March 2018). "This Tiny Private CubeRover Could Reach the Moon by 2020".
  4. ^ Jost, Kevin (8 May 2018). "Astrobotic to develop CubeRover standard for planetary surface mobility". Autonomous Vehicle Technology.
  5. ^ CubeRover – 2-kg Lunar Rover. Andrew Tallaksen's blog, lead systems engineer for CubeRover. 2018.
  6. ^ "Iris Lunar Rover". Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.
  7. ^ Carnegie Mellon Unveils Lunar Rover "Iris". Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.
  8. ^ "Andy — CMU". CMU Planetary Robotics. Archived from the original on 2016-04-16. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
  9. ^ Berger, Eric (25 June 2021). "Rocket Report: China to copy SpaceX's Super Heavy? Vulcan slips to 2022". Ars Technica. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  10. ^ Cuberover for Lunar Resource Site Evaluation. SBIR, US Government. Accessed on 8 December 2018.
  11. ^ Spice, Byron (14 May 2020). "Iris Lunar Rover Meets Milestone for Flight". Carnegie Mellon University News. Retrieved 31 May 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 April 2022, at 14:16
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