From July 10 through August 3, 2007, the Intelligent Robotics Group conducted a robotic field test in Haughton Crater (Devon Island, Canada). Two NASA Ames K10 rovers, "Red" and "Black", performed systematic surveys of several simulated lunar outpost sites, including a roughly 700 m x 700 m region called "Drill Hill". The K10 rovers were equipped with ground penetrating radar to map underground layers and a 3D scanning laser to map topography. During the three-week test, the two K10's drove a total of 45 km, collected more than 25 GB of data, and operated for a combined total of 200 hours.
When NASA establishes a lunar outpost, detailed surveys will be needed at a variety of sites to layout infrastructure, to prospect for resources, and to plan astronaut excursions. If the outpost is in a polar region, this characterization will need to be performed on harsh terrain and in permanently shadowed areas.
Site survey requires systematic coverage of an area. It is not unusual for site surveys to require thousands of measurements and hundreds of hours to complete. As a result, it is unrealistic to conduct site surveys through extra-vehicular activity (EVA) alone. For example, the total duration of lunar EVA during all of Apollo was 80 hours, which would be insufficient to perform even half of the "Drill Hill" survey.
"K10 Red" near the Haughton-Mars Project Base Camp.
The robotics systems developed by this project will help NASA reduce the number and duration of EVA sorties required for site assessment during future lunar exploration missions. In particular, these systems will significantly reduce unproductive EVA sorties, reduce mission cost and improve the effectiveness of lunar missions by allowing surveying tasks to be off-loaded to ground control.
This research is supported by the NASA Exploration Technology Development Program and the Innovative Partnerships Program. Collaborators include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Johnson Space Center, Optech Inc., and the Haughton-Mars Project.
For more information, please contact Terry Fong.
28 July 2007 - Completing the Drill Hill GPR Survey
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27 July 2007 - K10 Black return to Drill Hill
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26 July 2007 - K10 Red simulates dark crater descent
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