Professor Earns NASA Award for Lunar Rover Accomplishment

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Ronnal Reichard, Doherty Visiting Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems at Florida Institute of Technology, knows something about the environment of our moon as well as the Earth. His work on the lunar rover, developing a lightweight composite blade to convert it to a bulldozer and road grader, won him a NASA Group Achievement Award. He earned the award for his development and testing work as a member of the Human Robotics Systems Moses Lake, Wash., Field Test Team in 2009.

When NASA returns to the moon, the need to build a lunar base is expected. This includes building roads to access various sites of interest. The converted lunar rover, called the Chariot, was tested by Reichard and his team in the basalt desert of Moses Lake, a terrain similar to that on the moon.

“NASA selected this area to test the ability of the rover and the durability of the lightweight composite blade to create and maintain roads,” said Reichard.

“The tests were completed on time, within budget and were 100 percent successful. Apparently, this is not common.”

Reichard, who holds the department’s visiting professor post for this academic year, is also chief executive officer and chief engineer of Structural Composites, Inc., and COMPSYS, Inc. His specialty field is composite materials and structures.

DMES offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in earth remote sensing, environmental science, including environmental resource management, meteorology, ocean engineering, oceanography and coastal zone management.

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