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Percussive And Rotary Surveying & Extracting Carousel: PARSEC


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PARSEC on the test stand at competition in 2021 and system-level overview

Northeastern University's Mars Ice Team was selected as one of the ten finalists by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace in the 2021 NASA Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge. After a year of dedicated research and design efforts, we earned a $10,000 grant to develop and assemble our robot called PARSEC (Percussive And Rotary Surveying & Extracting Carousel) to extract subterranean ice from a simulated Martian surface.

As a key member of the mechanical sub-team, I played a significant role in designing and prototyping critical components of PARSEC. Drawing upon my expertise in mechanics of materials and dynamics, I utilized Fusion 360 and 3D printing technology to create sophisticated mechanisms that would withstand the competition's constraints and challenges.

One of the most significant design innovations on the robot was the rotating carousel frame, which replaced the linear rail mechanism from previous designs. I spent considerable time and effort designing this mechanism, taking into account the various stresses the robot would experience while in operation. I also developed a locking system to ensure the robot remained in place during tool operation.

In addition to designing the robot's frame, I also contributed to the development of several key tools, including the melting, digital coring, and drilling tools. I designed the rotation and articulation methods for the melting and digital coring tools, incorporating my knowledge of rigid body motion to maximize the robot's water prospecting capabilities.

Video of me spinning the improved carousel before the motors were added  (I'm 5'11" for scale) 

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Improved PARSEC frame with rotating carousel system and turntable breaks

I also integrated a filtration system into the melting system to ensure the harvested water was potable, providing a significant bonus to our device.

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Articulating melting probe assembly

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Melting tool "lunchbox" assembly, articulation and rotation mechanisms.

Our hard work and dedication paid off, as our team won several significant awards, including 2nd place overall, best undergraduate team, and best technical paper. PARSEC was able to collect an impressive 16 liters of water over two days of continuous operation, doubling the previous competition record.

As a member of the Northeastern Mars Ice Team, I am proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing my work in the field of robotics and space exploration. This experience has given me invaluable skills in design, prototyping, and teamwork, which I will carry forward throughout my career.

Midpoint Review Video Submission

Final Integration Video Submission

Some Additional Reading:



NU Team Places 2nd at NASA RASC-AL Competition


NASA Science Live: Moon to Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge

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PARSEC Team at the 2021 NASA Mars Ice Challenge Competition in September 2021

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