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What is the best (easiest) way to get a rover to the surface of a celestial body?


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So lately I've been sending rovers to all sorts of places around the solar system. All the way from the densely packed system of Jool, and to the red planet along with it's (somewhat pesky) moon (that is always giving me unwanted assists and collision courses). Every time is the same problem though: the landing is always either on a steep slope or my descent vehicle design is so bad, pulling off a landing with the rover being upright and (somewhat) intact is nothing short of a crazy party trick. With all this being said, along what lines should I build my descent vechicle, without it becoming another one of those sandbox monstrosities?

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Skycranes are pretty cool and easy to use, if it's a small rover I use a FL-T200 with four Twitch engines, with a structural piece for vertical spacing then a decoupler. Put a probe core on the skycrane part so you can fly it away.

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I tend to design rovers to attach a rocket engine. I find it pretty useful: fuel tanks can be served as fuselage; it not only can land by itself but also fly as a hopper; a short thrust can save the rover from hitting the ground too fast when driving on bumpy ground.

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4 minutes ago, FancyMouse said:

I tend to design rovers to attach a rocket engine. I find it pretty useful: fuel tanks can be served as fuselage; it not only can land by itself but also fly as a hopper; a short thrust can save the rover from hitting the ground too fast when driving on bumpy ground.

I once landed one of my rovers on the munar surface about ~60 Km off the intended landing zone. I had the choice to either drive around a larger crater or simply hop over it to get to my intended destination. I decided to do the latter since my rover was equipped with a bunch of "twitch" engines and had some fuel left. 

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I've found the most elegant way is to design it to fit in a large service bay. Works fine for smaller rovers or as suggested above , a sky crane. Bodies with atmospheres are easy of course with parachutes 

Edited by nickrich
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3 hours ago, legoclone09 said:

Skycranes are pretty cool and easy to use, if it's a small rover I use a FL-T200 with four Twitch engines, with a structural piece for vertical spacing then a decoupler. Put a probe core on the skycrane part so you can fly it away.

Pretty much this, but I use two Thuds for landing, and a couple of sepratrons to make it fly clear of the rover instead of a probe core.

Edited by severedsolo
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My latest rover weights about 2 or 3 Tm and is exploring all the Moho surface. I placed the rover on the top of the rocket, surrounded by a fairing. I attached to the rover a couple of engines and tanks to make the descent from orbit, and when landed I decoupled them.

 

 

 

Edited by LordCorwin
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1 hour ago, nickrich said:

I've found the most elegant way is to design it to fit in a large service bay. Works fine for smaller rovers or as suggested above , a sky crane. Bodies with atmospheres are easy of course with parachutes 

Ah, the rover-in-a-can approach. I like this one. It gets a bit tricky if you want the rover to be able to re-connect to the service bay with a docking port, but it does allow for some fun mission plans. Also useful because you can slap a big honkin' antenna on the can and not haul it everywhere with your rover.

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If the place has a substantial atmosphere (by which I mean a thicker atmosphere than Duna) a glider can be useful. They can be challenging to configure however.

Otherwise, a skycrane is probably the best method, but pack a lot of extra fuel so that if your initial landing site isn't flat enough you can move somewhere else. Alternatively, drop several small, cheap probes in the area beforehand and label them to indicate approximately where the flattest terrain is. Then aim for the best location.

Edited by eloquentJane
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First, you need to be able to land without things going wonky. Every time.

Once you've got that, landing rovers is pretty easy. I like to stick them under a dedicated rover lander, and right as you touch down throttle up and hit space, detaching the lander from the rover. The lander flies into space never to be seen again and your rover is sitting pretty on the surface.

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I have 2 rover styles. One is an ISRU rover for refueling. It stays next to the drill, and carries fuel to landed ships. Therefore it has a big fuel tank on it, and I stick a terrier underneath it so it can fly.

The second kind is a science rover. They are intended to go fairly long distances, over bad ground, and up steep slopes. So first, I make them big because that helps stability. Since they are big I launch them by themselves, and usually I make them be spaceplanes. So: wings, airplane wheels on the back, rover wheels on the front, a klaw somewhere, a couple nuke engines, a few tanks of LF here and there, & lots of science instruments. I land them on their engine bells and drop them onto their wheels with W. The wheels get them around on flattish ground -- the nukes push them up any slopes (up to 89 degrees).

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