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Everest is an operational prototype of a pressurized Mars rover for long range exploration that serves as a platform for mission planning and experimental exploration research, currently at the Mars Desert Research Station. Pressurized rovers are important equipment for human Mars missions, with durations of 1.5 years or longer, allowing exploration of multiple scientifically valuable sites during a single mission.
The Everest in use at the MDRS
Built by students at the University of Michigan, the rover is based on the chassis of a 1996 U.S. Army FMTV (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles) off-road cargo vehicle. The student team added a custom crew cabin module designed for a crew of 3 to live and work in for up to 2 weeks.
Everest systems include the original vehicle diesel engine and drive train, central tire inflation, an auxiliary diesel generator, life support (includes kitchen galley, environmental control, bathroom with shower, water supply, food storage and preparation, sleeping bunks), crew computers, workstation desks and seating, sample storage, tools and tool storage, a science glove box, (left) and science equipment, and an airlock for crew entry and exit.
The purpose of an operational prototype is to experimentally test major design concepts –such as the optimal range and duration of rover missions, the most efficient proportion of crew time spent on EVA, the most efficient and safe number of crew, and crew skill complement, the use of an airlock for egress, the use of science equipment on board for on-site analysis, the use of robotic assistance to human explorers, the design and planning of different types of rover missions, and the optimal number and size of Mars rovers.
The Everest rover prototype would not have been possible without our many sponsors.
Major design concepts will be incorporated into future engineering prototypes that will include systems expected to be used on Mars – fuel cell power, pressurized cabin, active suspension, drive-by-wire control, light weight materials, and autonomous operation.