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FASTER – Forward Acquisition of Soil and Terrain for Exploration Rover

link to:  long FASTER Documentary


Concluded November 2014


EU – FP 7 in the frame of Space, Collaborative Project


DFKI – German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence; University of Surry; Astrium Ltd; Space Applications Services NV; LIQUIFER Systems Group; Astri Polska Sp. z o. o.

LSG team

Barbara Imhof, Waltraut Hoheneder, Valentin Eder, Stephen Ransom, René Waclavicek, Damjan Minovsky, Lutz Richter


FASTER – the Forward Acquisition of Soil and Terrain for Exploration Rover describes an alternative method of collecting surface information of an unknown terrain during planetary exploration missions.

In most cases, robotic rovers venture into vast and varied terrain with limited precursory trafficability-knowledge of the terrain.  Based on relatively sparse remote sensing data, the estimates are sometimes inaccurate, and the rover may find itself stuck in a stretch of soft sand or other unforeseen obstacles.  This happened to the otherwise very successful NASA Mars rover, Spirit.  To avoid such accidents, planetary exploration rovers today move very carefully, covering not more than a few meters per day.

To increase travel velocities, an in-situ physical examination of the planetary surface is necessary.  In the project FASTER, the European consortium of six partners from five member states, develops and demonstrates concepts for an efficient in-situ acquisition of soil, and survey of terrain properties on planetary surfaces.

The new FASTER system combines a light-weight portable soil sensor with a small all-terrain scout rover which can quickly and more efficiently test the trafficability of a terrain, enabling higher travel velocities and reducing the risk for the mother rover.

go to FASTER website

image © LIQUIFER Systems Group/rendering: René Waclavicek  background image courtesy of NASA, photo: Valentin Eder, 2014