Antarctic Meteorite Search
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.

Brief Profile

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 page.

List of Publications

All publications related to this project are documented in this publication list

Robotic Search for Antarctic Meteorites 1997 
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This document prepared by Matthew Deans