Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Paul van Susante

Committee Member 1

Gordon Parker

Committee Member 2

Jung Yun Bae


Gravity offloading is a tool used to test how different gravitational forces will impact the mobility of rovers bound for Lunar or Martian expeditions. Previous approaches have been successful in simulating partial gravity environments, and this report details how the Infrared- Gravity offload (IRGO) system, developed for the Planetary Surface Technology Development Laboratory (PSTDL) and lunar simulant sandbox, has a similar aim. Through a series of iterations, IRGO has been developed to actively track an infrared beacon and follow a rover within the test chamber to eliminate inertial and friction forces along two horizonal axes. A portion of a rover’s weight is offloaded using a passive counterweight system to provide a third translational degree of freedom. Future plans to incorporate a lightweight gimbal as well as an active vertical axis are also discussed as solutions to improving the IRGO system.