From June 14-27, the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) will use a robot to scout portions of the Black Point Lava Flow in northern Arizona. The robot, called K10, will be remotely operated from the NASA Lunar Science Institute at NASA Ames. The science data acquired with K10 will help in planning geology field work that a two-person crew will perform in September 2009 using the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Lunar Electric Rover and simulated extra-vehicular activity (EVA) suits.
The goal of this “robotic recon experiment” is to improve NASA’s understanding of how advance robot scouting can enhance mission planning and increase science return. To scout Black Point Lava Flow, K10 is equipped with multiple cameras, including a GigaPan www.gigapan.org, and 3D scanning laser that will provide extremely high-resolution images and measurements of terrain and surface features.
A team consisting of IRG engineers, planetary scientists, and flight controllers from JSC’s Mission Operations Directorate will remotely operate K10 from the NASA Lunar Science Institute. Interactive geo-spatial user interfaces and real-time performance monitoring systems will be used to command K10 and analyze science data. A variety of metrics will be used to assess the quantitative impact of robotic recon on planning, operations, and crew activity.
For more information about the robotic recon experiment, visit http://lunarscience.nasa.gov/roboticrecon/.
BACKGROUND: The human return to the Moon in 2020 offers new opportunities to advance the scientific exploration of the lunar surface. When the new exploration campaign begins, people will initially be on the Moon only for short periods of time. Between human missions, however, robots will be available to perform surface operations. A central challenge, therefore, is to understand how robots can improve the productivity and science return of human missions. One way to do this may be robotic recon.
Robotic recon can potentially improve human exploration of the Moon in three ways: (1) it can increase scientific understanding so that better plans can be made; (2) it can reduce operational risk by evaluating routes and terrain hazards; and (3) it can improve crew productivity by enabling activities to be planned in detail. This field test will help NASA better understand and evaluate these improvements.
NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Human-Robotic Systems (Exploration Technology Development Program) and Desert RATS (Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Analogs Program)
Contact: Terry Fong