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Lunar Analog Science Traverses Experimenting with “Smart Phone” Apps

The NASA Ames Mobile Agents team collaborated with Smithsonian Institution scientists in a series of lava flow surveys near Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, September 19-25, 2010. Geologists used a conventional differential GPS logging instrument, while computer scientists used “smart phone” applications to capture the same terrain profiles associated with photographs and video located on tracks overlaid on satellite images.

The expedition showed that e-science tools for explorers could now be packaged in an inexpensive hand-held “location-aware” multimedia device. However, exploration systems also require methods for flexibly integrating Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) plans, instruments, and life support systems with monitoring and alerting capabilities. This field experience has suggested ways to adapt NASA’s agent-based workflow architecture for mobile devices. This would provide an interoperability framework that enables real-time data and information exchange among apps, thus avoiding stove piping and promoting extensibility.

BACKGROUND: NASA’s Moon and Mars Analogue Mission Activities (MMAMA) program aims to develop operational concepts for surface science scenarios relevant to the preparation of planned human missions to the Moon and Mars. The current project, Volcanic Studies through EVA Simulations (PI: Brent Garry, Smithsonian), collects geological data useful for interpreting lunar surface features, such as putative calderas.

The Mobile Agents team has been developing agent-based systems for surface exploration since 2000 and has experimented with prototype e-science systems used by research geologists in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, and Belize.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: 2009 MMAMA Program

COLLABORATORS: Brent Garry and Jim Zimbelman (Smithsonian Institution), and Maarten Sierhuis (PARC/SGT)

Contact: Bill Clancey

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