The ESA Planetary Robotics Laboratory is an engineering research laboratory that specialises in addressing the challenges robot probes face in the exploration of the surface of Moon and Mars, with particular attention to the motion aspect.
As a probe moves on a far planetary surface it must have physical locomotion ability, navigation ability and logical autonomy. The lab is equipped to study and support research, development, validation and verification of all three aspects.
Furthermore as navigation and autonomy require suitable programming and execution monitoring tools, the lab has also means to support research, development and validation of rover control and monitoring stations.
Enabling Space Exploration and Planetary Science
Robotics is a fascinating subject, enabling a lot of interesting research activities. However it is important to understand that for ESA planetary robots are just a convenient tool to operate scientific payloads on remote environments, thereby facilitating ESA’s goals in space science and exploration. ESA’s Planetary Robotics Lab services focus on proving that a robot and its scientific payload can work as an effective means of scientific investigation/exploration.
From concept definition and breadborading to mission support the Lab conducts ESA-wide research, development and testing of the two main robot types used in planetary robotics: rover platforms and sampling/sample manipulation systems.
For rovers, the Lab’s equipment and expertise allow overall prototyping, assessment and testing of locomotion, navigation and localisation means with enhanced onboard autonomy, and commanding and monitoring tools.
For sampling/sample-manipulation systems the Lab offers support for assessment of feasibility of manipulators and tools, prototyping and testing of them and finally assessment of the interaction with the environment and the instrument/equipment they serve.