Robotic Antarctic Meteorite Search
Artist's conception of Nomad on the blue ice near
Patriot Hills, Antarctica, 80oS, 81oW
RAMS Insiders page
Internal project information is accessible here.
Results from 1997 Antarctic Field Expedition
For a report on the recent expedition to the Patriot Hills region of Antarctica,
see the Expedition Report page.
Antarctica presents a close analog to planetary exploration with regards
to environmental survival, communication, power, navigation, remote operations,
and scientific agenda. An ideal context for robotic Antarctic demonstrations
with relevance to planetary exploration is the search for Antarctic meteorites
and in particular for those of Martian origin. Through tireless investigation
in the harsh Antarctic environment and using computer sensing to search
above and below the ice surface, meteorobots developed in this program
will explore regions of Antarctica to find otherwise undetected meteorites.
The use of robots will augment the human search for meteorites by working
full-day cycles in the deep cold, and by detecting surface meteorites obscured
to the human eye by blowing or drifting snow. In a few years, robots could
find meteorites not visible to humans, overlooked by humans, or in areas
challenging to the human search.
In December 1997 and January 1998 this program validated robotic component
technologies and meteorite detection sensors in Antarctica. During a four
week period, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, NASA Ames Research
Center, and University of Pittsburgh, deployed and validated a novel wide
field-of-view robotic-science camera, radar and vision sensors, low-bandwidth
communications, a solar power generation apparatus, and a variety of meteorite
detection technologies including an optical spectrometer. The team evaluated
the field performance of these technologies in multiple deployment scenarios.
During the 1998 field season, a winterized Nomad robot outfitted with
science sensors will explore Antarctic icefields in search of stranded
meteorites and under human supervision. In 1999 a new meteorobot and Nomad
will perform collaborative autonomous searches for meteorites and demonstrate
control from remote scientists.
Robotic Antarctic Meteorite Search is funded by the Telerobotics
Program UPN 632-40-42 of NASA's Office
of Space Science Advanced Technology & Mission Studies Division.
Future: 1998 Antarctic Field Deployment
In Fall of 1998, we will take the Nomad rover to Antarctica. For a look
at what's to come, check out the Future Plans
List of Publications
All publications related to this project are documented in this publication
Robotic Search for Antarctic Meteorites 1997
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This document prepared by Matthew