Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) personnel were among the teams of international researchers exploring concepts and testing robots for future Moon and planetary exploration as part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP). HMP-2010 began on July 19th and included three weeks of field studies, robotic testing, and crew and mission control activities at the Haughton Crater on Devon Island, Canada. The dry, rocky terrain of Haughton Crater is similar to conditions explorers might find on other planetary bodies and moons. To simulate robotic activities for space missions, the Intelligent Robotics Group deployed robots, known as K10s, equipped with a slew of instruments, including spectrometers, ground-penetrating radar, 3-D scanning lidar, and color imagers. The K10s characterized rocks, soil, and the landscape of key areas at Haughton Crater and mapped above and below ground structures.
“Explorers, such as geologists, often find themselves with a set of observations they would have liked to make, or samples they would have liked to take, if only they had been able to stay longer at a site,” said Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “Our work this year is to study how remotely-operated robots, perhaps even vehicles previously used for crew transport, can be used to perform follow-up work.” Robotic site surveys and the collection of instrument readings could save astronauts thousands of man-hours performing tedious, repetitive, and time-consuming activities. Also, robotic data and photographic surveys could be planned to complement those undertaken by humans. Mission planners predict that in the future there will be substantial amounts of time for robots to perform research work at a range of destinations before and between crewed missions.
BACKGROUND: The Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) supports the Moon and Mars Analog Mission Activities Program in both the Science Mission Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Devon Island’s polar desert setting, geological features, and microbiology make the crater a great analog for Moon and Mars studies and tests. HMP is an international, multidisciplinary field research study managed by the Mars Institute at Moffett Field, in collaboration with the SETI Institute in Mountain View. For more information about the Haughton Mars Project and NASA's Exploration Analog Missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/analogs/.
NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: SMD and ESMD
Contact: Terry Fong