A report discusses the design of the rocker-bogie suspensions of the Mars Exploration Rover vehicles, which were landed on Mars in January 2004. Going beyond the basic requirements regarding mobility on uneven terrain, the design had to satisfy requirements (1) to enable each suspension to contort so that the rover could be stowed within limited space in a tetrahedral lander prior to deployment and (2) that the suspension be able to absorb appreciable impact loads, with limited deflection, during egress from the lander and traversal of terrain.
For stowability, six joints (three on the right, three on the left) were added to the basic rocker-bogie mechanism. One of the joints on each side was a yoke-and-clevis joint at the suspension/differential interface, one was a motorized twist joint in the forward portion of the rocker, and one was a linear joint created by modifying a fixed-length bogie member into a telescoping member. For absorption of impact, the structural members were in the form of box beams made by electron-beam welding of machined, thin-walled, C-channel, titanium components. The box beams were very lightweight and could withstand high bending and torsional loads.