Space Grant Consortium
Student Highlight: Gabe Herz
UNDERGRADUATE, Mechanical Engineering
This December, I will be graduating with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. As a native Nevadan, my interest in aerospace has led me across the United States. Beginning with an internship at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida and ending with an internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, I have been participating in a number of amazing robotics projects. At KSC, I was involved in the development of lunar excavators and participated in the launch preparations for Robonaut 2. Being a member of the ATHLETE team at JPL showed me the research and development side to engineering as I developed tools and test beds for a potential asteroid mission. I look forward to being part of this industry in the future.
As a 2011 NVSGC-sponsored summer intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Gabe Herz had the opportunity to be part of the ATHLETE mechanical team. ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is a vehicle concept developed at JPL with six limbs – each having six degrees of freedom of motion. A wheel at the end of each limb allows ATHLETE to roll over gentle terrain and climb over rough terrain. A tool attachment point at the end of each wheel allows ATHLETE to use any of its limbs as a robotic arm. The recent focus of the ATHLETE team has been to develop it for a potential asteroid mission.
The ATHLETE team has constructed the Low Gravity Test Bed to simulate the micro-gravity environment that ATHLETE would be operating in on an asteroid mission. Over his ten-week long internship, Herz had the opportunity to work on a number of projects supporting this area of development. He finished the construction of a counter rotating auger anchor that ATHLETE could use to secure itself to the surface of an asteroid. Related to this project, Herz developed a test bed that will allow the ATHLETE team to test the effectiveness of the auger anchor and demonstrate the robot’s anchoring capabilities. Another focus of his work was to develop a system to allow ATHLETE to test a variety of tools in a general test bed.
During the summer of 2010, NVSGC sponsored Gabe for an internship at Kennedy Space Center where he created a stop motion movie of the preparations for packing Robonaut 2 for space flight, which was carried aboard space shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, to the International Space Station in May of 2011.
Herz also participated in a rocket payload building workshop, RockOn 2009, lead by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA in the summer of 2009. Not only did he participate in building a rocket payload, he also created a stop motion video of the entire week.