Student-Led Programs

Tools and Algorithms for Sampling in Extreme Terrain

Lead Student
Melissa Tanner


The overall goal of this Program was to develop and implement a compact instrument for the Axel extreme terrain rover to sample Martian or lunar rock and soil. A small group of students investigated the engineering design problems involved in extreme terrain sampling, and attempted to find a suitable solution. This gave several promising students an opportunity to collaborate with an experienced JPL robotics team on a relevant current problem in aerospace engineering. In addition, new sampling devices and sampling strategies will add functionality to the Axel rover and increase its technology readiness level. The designs resulting from this program are applicable to other extreme terrain robots conducting sampling missions on steep terrain.

Caltech Today: KISS Selects Student-led Rover Project for Funding

Caltech Faculty Mentor
Joel Burdick

JPL Faculty Mentor
Issa Nesnas

SURF Students with Axel

Study lead Melissa Tanner and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) students drive Axel around JPL.

For questions contact: Melissa Tanner or Michele Judd

Melissa Tanner

Student Lead Melissa Tanner



Axel Rover