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ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is a robotic rover under development by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While currently intended for lunar activities, ATHLETE could be adapted for martian use.

Projected Capabilities

  • Greater than 4 m in diameter with more than 6 m reach
  • Able to dock or mate with special-purpose devices, including a launchable/releasable grappling hook, refueling stations, excavation implements, and/or special end effectors
  • 6-DOF legs for generalized robotic manipulation
  • Large payload capacity of 450 kg per vehicle, with much more for multiple ATHLETE vehicles docked together
  • Able to move at 10 km/h over Apollo-like terrain (>100 times faster than Mars Exploration Rover (MER))
  • Climb vertical steps of at least 70% of the maximum stowed dimension of the vehicle (>2x MER)
  • Climb slopes of 35° on rock and 25° on soft sand
  • Load, transport, manipulate, and deposit mock payloads in a useful fashion
  • Be stowed and docked compactly for launch into an annular ring so that many vehicles can be efficiently stacked around a main payload on a single lander[1]