NASA Puts Lunar Electric Rover to Desert Test

On the moon, the 12-wheeled, battery-powered LER would have a range of about 150 miles.

Published: 17-Sep-2009

If NASA astronauts return to the moon in the next decade, they'll get to cruise the lunar surface in style.

The space agency's current plan is to send humans back to the moon by 2020, and this includes using a new exploration vehicle called Lunar Electric Rover (LER). About the size of a small pickup truck, LER has 12 pivoting wheels that enable the rover to move in any direction and turn on a dime; it features a tilting cockpit for close-up views of the terrain; and it runs on batteries and fuel cells.

This week NASA completed field tests of the rover in Black Point Lava Flow, AZ, as part of an annual event called the Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS). The desert landscape--a rugged terrain of sand dunes that is subject to sandstorms and violent temperature swings--is ideal for simulating lunar exploration.


TREV two-place electric car

Student-built vehicle can do 0-60 in 10 seconds with top speed of 75 mph. Photo courtesy of University of South Australia.

Aptera Typ-1 could achieve some 300 mpg as a plug-in hybrid, but would not qualify for tax credit.

Credit up to $5000 for qualified, 4-wheel electric passenger vehicles would not apply to highly efficient vehicles like the Aptera Typ-1 which will be powered as a battery vehicle and with a range-extending engine/generator option.

Some of the 18 Miles ZX40S low-speed electric car used by Paws Up Resort in Montana

The fleet includes 12 ZX40S Advanced Design cars and six OR70 off-road vehicles.


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