Simulating the arid, rocky terrain explorers might encounter on future space missions to planets and moons, from July 26 to August 8, 2010, the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) is conducting robotic field test at the Haughton Crater on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic. Scientists are putting robotics to the test, partnering with NASA to assess concepts for future remote planetary exploration as part of the Haughton-Mars Project, or HMP-2010.
"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 in Moffett Field, Calif. "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."
Site surveys can involve tedious and repetitive tasks, and by using teleoperated robots for follow-up activities, NASA is hoping to pull more useful information from their missions.
The potential challenges of remote research are great. From communication and transportation logistics to weather and instrument efficiency, space work is a desolate environment, and the Canadian arctic puts NASA engineers to the test.