Remember that storm from “Mars”?
Mars The drone and rover prototypes undergoing testing in Iceland this summer had to withstand a stormy environment somewhat similar to the fictional storm in the 2016 movie.
“I’ve never seen such a crazy wind in my life,” planetary geologist Catherine Nisch, assistant professor at Western University in Canada, told Space.com. “The drones can’t fly in high wind conditions, and in this case, it was so loud that we didn’t want people out either,” Nisch said, noting that the storm was near hurricane conditions.
The storm was not something one would see on the Red Planet, despite technical license from “Mars”. Nisch said the situation showed how robots and humans alike can withstand challenging conditions, and that’s an important readiness to get drones and rovers to work together with human assistants on board. the moonMars and other rocky worlds.
Iceland has already emerged as an ideal location for Perform analog tasks It aims to replicate, as closely as possible, the conditions that astronauts in the depths would encounter.outer space missions. The island boasts a variety of extraterrestrial-like habitats, including lava flows, glaciers, and mountains. Furthermore, Iceland is a relatively small country, so researchers can access many types of terrain in a short trip.
During this summer’s mission, Nis’ team explored a lava flow in Iceland that erupted in late 2014 or early 2015. While Mars does not have active volcanic activity as we know, the benefit of the new analog site is that it hasn’t eroded much; Mars erosion is relatively slow compared to a landNich explained.
“This new surface has been covered up; we also see a lot of dust and sand on Mars, flying and accumulating on lava flows,” Nisch said. Then nearby [our site]There is already a glacier. There’s a lot of ice on Mars as well, so it really is a perfect counterpart to Mars.”
LiDAR survey of our #RAVEN base camp in Iceland, with the new PhoenixLiDAR back system. You can see our tents, tables, solar panels and even the rocks lining the paths! pic.twitter.com/pchFZVMwgr29 July 2022
Called the Rover-Aerial Vehicle Exploration Network (RAVEN) field study, humans and robots alike have explored the Holuhraun lava flow using a prototype drone made by Honeybee Robotics equipped with a sample collection device. This work may be useful to NASAAims to restore Mars Samples with dronesLike the cleverness helicopter from perseverance rover mission.
Also on site were the Canadian Space Agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Scientific Rover (MERS) rover, drones from the University of Arizona, as well as staff from Canada’s MDA (which operates Canadarm’s robotic arms at the International Space Station) and Reykjavik University in Iceland.
During this flight, a first on the project, the team aimed to operate the rover and drone separately with remote support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, which runs real rover missions on Mars, including perseverance and Curiosity of.
Nich explained that JPL engineers send orders over the Internet. Then the operations teams on site create a plan based on orders.
“JPL had certain science goals in mind, and then there would be an implementation team that would go out in the field with the rover or the drone and carry out the orders given by the operations team,” Nisch said.
The teams are still analyzing data about their trips in Iceland. More research papers may be released soon regarding their findings. Meanwhile, Nis and her collaborators plan another visit in 2023.
At the time, scientists hope that roving vehicles and drones will be able to operate together more directly — and under more favorable winds.