Vishnu Reddy (1, 2, 3) and their research group are quite active in space exploration both in Earth-based observation and now in the design of future spacecraft, and have recently pseudo-confirmed that the object currently designated as 2020 SO is likely covered in stainless steel and so is probably the rocket body who's trajectory it so nicely matches. (4, 5)

In the NASA "people" page Vishnu Reddy; Scientist, University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is the following exchange:

Q: Do you have a yet-to-be-achieved life goal?

A: I would love to have a rover on Vesta like how we have on Mars. Maybe it can be done in our lifetime.

Question: What are the engineering challenges to putting a rover on 4 Vesta or 1 Ceres? Starting from a "Curiosity-class" rover, how might one redesign it for such a mission?

note: A "Curiosity-class" rover means a unit of comparable size and sophistication that is able to move itself a considerable distance over time, avoid getting trapped by obstacles in some way and collect a comparably diverse set of data and have a comparable amount of command and data traffic with Earth. It doesn't have to necessarily look like Curiosity!

"bonus points" for exploring why Reddy might have mentioned Vesta but not Ceres.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ No wheels needed in such low gravity. $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ @A.Rumlin like this? :-) also see this answer to Does new technology make it advantageous to have walking rovers? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 4:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ like Phobos-2 lander at 6:56 youtu.be/m2dz7s8-yYg?t=416 $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 15:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @A.Rumlin yes that is likely to work much better. I've added a note to the question. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 23:39


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