Moon landing and Mars rovers: our forays into space

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The second episode of the Create the Future podcast – Moon landing and Mars rovers: our forays into space – is out now! Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, we talk with Apollo engineer Dr David Baker and then traverse the surface of Mars with Airbus ExoMars rover engineer Abbie Hutty.

Abbie Hutty

A British mechanical engineer who has worked as the lead structures engineer on the 2020 ExoMars rover vehicle. In 2016, she was elected as the youngest ever Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Episode quotes

  • “It is all about making it look like mars, specifically so that we can develop our autonomy systems. So that means we have to make something that looks like Mars, so that the cameras get realistic terrains, contrast, and images to then do their algorithms and calculate our routes through."
  • “We have six flexible wheels and they are all metallic, and that is because we don’t want to contaminate Mars with Earth life. Rubber tyres come from trees, so we don’t want to use those, but we still need the flexibility in our wheels to get the traction and grip. We came up with spring wheels to do just that with metal."

Dr David Baker

Worked closely on the Apollo programme to allow astronauts to remain on the moon for extended periods of time. Subsequently, he worked on developing NASA’s Space Shuttle and helped to integrate aerospace technologies in several Asian countries.

Episode quotes

  • “It is often said that the processing power of the Apollo guidance system’s computers – one in the lunar module and one in the mothership – would be incapable of powering a modern smartwatch. But the important thing to remember is that they were not controlling everything; all the complex processes were done in freezer-sized computers in the real-time computer complex (RTCC).”
  • “Innovation is the child of challenge. The challenge we faced required innovation, discovery, and invention in order to make it happen.”

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