We set up today to simulate a robot descending a dark crater under remote teleoperation. K10 Red does not use its lidar for autonomous navigation, only for capturing data for topographic surveys. But an operator can get a pretty good idea of the terrain in front of the robot by looking at the scan. The surveying lidar and laser scanner comprise a sensor suite suitable for navigating in an area with no light, since both of the lasers measure terrain shape through time of flight.
For the test, Pete Worden acted as the mission director, analyzing the terrain with Mark and Hans and deciding where to drive. He was looking for traversable terrain as well as interesting features. We did a short test near base camp to introduce Pete to the rover operations tools, then moved the rover to a test site that Pete had not seen before. We operated for about an hour and took detailed notes on the operations. Here is an image of K10 Red taking a lidar scan, and a screenshot of the scan acquired:
After an hour of operations, Pascal alerted us that there was an opportunity for some of our team to take a ride in a helicopter. That was enough excitement for the field team to shut down the rover and leave it on the side of the hill to come back. In the end we couldn't all go on the helicopter, so Susan, Vinh, Lorenzo, and Hans went.
Tonight after dinner John Schutt gave a talk about the Ansmet program. In his talk he covered many years of the program and even touched very briefly on the Robotic Antarctic Meteorite Search project at Carnegie Mellon University, a project that I worked on in graduate school. The seminar series at HMP is really fantastic but this one in particular was really enjoyable, with stunning photographs of the Antarctic.
After the seminars there was a demonstration of Inuit games. Robbie and PJ did some pretty physically demanding demonstrations. The first one was the "knuckle hop", which looks sort of like doing pushups with your fist against the ground but at the top you push off the ground with your fists and your toe and hop forward. After they demonstrated a few of us tried it too. I scraped some skin off of my knuckles. The only game I recognized was leg wrestling, and after Robbie beat PJ, Pete Worden challenged Robbie and beat him. Here's a rather blurry photo of the NASA Ames Center Director winning a leg wrestling contest.
Weather: Today was cold, and when we woke up it was really cloudy and foggy. It reminded me of San Francisco, not that it made me homesick but waking up to see the morning fog was reminiscent. It felt a lot more like I was in the Arctic today...