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Robotics, Rovers, the Moon, and Planets: Lessons learned, Current Plans, Potential Future directions


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Title: Robotics, Rovers, the Moon, and Planets: Lessons learned, Current Plans, Potential Future directions

Robotics, Rovers, the Moon, and Planets Lessons
learned, Current Plans, Potential Future
Dr. Pamela Clark December, 2008
Exploration in the Apollo Era
Early NASA Technological Milestones in Space
Vanguard Echo Tiros Mercury (Shepard) Mercury
(Glenn) Ranger 6-9 Gemini (Borman) Lunar
Orbiter 1-5 Lunar Surveyor Apollo
11-17 ERTS
  • 1958 US First Orbital Payload Launch
  • 1960 First Communication Satellite
  • First Weather Satellite
  • 1961 US First human sub-orbital flight
  • 1962 US First human orbital flight
  • First Close-up Images of lunar surface
  • 1965 US First Orbital Rendezvous
  • 1966 First Orbiter of Another Body
  • First Systematic Orbital Photography

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Simple manual sampling tools worked well Dont
make changes Did not have anything but naked eye
to describe samples Add imagers, spectrometers,
meters with minimized, mass, power, size with
point-and-click multi-platform (hand, rover,
robot) operation, especially multi-functional
tools Drills did not work as well Need design
for fully functioning drills, human driven or
automated Dust was a problem Need more effective
strategy for dust removal from all surfaces, More
effective Particulate Sample Collection material
and sealing Cumbersome documentation Need
automated capture of data, online information on
demand interface for astronauts
Tool Time on the Moon
  • Interior Limited seismic network indicating Moon
    mostly solid, highly resonant, with potentially
    damaging quakes, diurnal and precessional
    activity cycles. Short-term local Magnetic field
    measurements suggested systematic variations plus
    anomalies caused by direct interactions with
    plasma environment. Two shallow heat flow
    measurements indicated lunar heat flow 1/4-1/3 of
    earth, with apparent variations between major
    terranes and within diurnal and precessional
    cycles. Retroreflector to measure geophysical
    state variations not globally distributed. Need
    Global Long-term Coverage, deeper heat flow
  • Environment Short-term dayside measurements of
    solar wind, plasma, cosmic ray, atmosphere,
    charged particle, and atmospheric species
    environment. Minimal characterization of dust
    behavior in context of fields and particles
    environment. Need Long-term Coverage to
    understand interactions between dust and

Experiment Time on the Moon
1) ASE Mortar Package Assembly 2) Heat Flow
Experiment electronics box 3) Solar Wind
Spectrometer 4) Suprathermal Ion Detector/Cold
Cathode Ion Gauge 5) Lunar Surface
Magnetometer 6) Charged Particle Lunar
Environment 7) Passive Siesmic Experiment 8)
Laser Ranging Retroreflector 9) Lunar Ejecta and
Meteorites Experiment 10) Lunar Atmosperic
Composition Experiment 11) Lunar Surface
Apollo and Follow-on Era in Understanding Moons
Contributions to Science? Recorder of the history
of the early solar system as it affected the
Earth. Origination of the Magma ocean
hypothesis extensive melting of interior early
in terrestrial planets history. Understanding of
the domination of bombardment and space
weathering as erosional and exosphere forming
processes Atmosphereless laboratory for
understanding galactic and solar radiation/solar
wind and plasma/field/particle interactions near
the Earth Recorder of solar temporal variations
and thus Earth climate variations in regolith as
function of depth and exposure age. Laboratory
for development exploration techniques such as
orbital remote sensing, remote in situ surface
stations, surface exploration tools, database
techniques. Visits required development deep
space communication, data handling, and
transportation capabilities to support the lunar
program. Ground truth collected by well trained
humans with relatively simple tools, backed up by
preliminary remote reconnaissance, proved more
effective than robotic rovers, at present level
of development, for interpreting local processes
embodied in samples and features in the context
of global terranes in a timely fashion.
The Lunar Exploration Initiative
D. Mackenzie, New Scientist, July, 2008
The Moon Landing, Living, and Leaving
The Apollo landing module (LM) was the combined
human crew descent module, living quarters, and
ascent vehicle because it only had to carry life
support for three days.
  • The Return to the Moon will involve a greater
    number of longer duration stays, requiring
  • a minimum of one cargo lander for every human
    crewed lander which will carry the habitat
    modules and
  • one human crewed lander approximately once a year
    which will act as descent module for the crew and
    carry the crew away in the ascent module.


The Moon Mobility on the Surface
The Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) was
adequate for the crew of 2 to perform three 8
hour field trips within a 10 kilometer radius
in three days.
The Return to the Moon will involve a greater
number of longer duration trips, requiring 1)
for short (Apollo J style) trips (up to 10 km
radius) Apollo-style unpressurized rovers 2) for
intermediate scale (10-100 km radius), two
pressurized rovers with towable power modules 3)
plus for longer trips (100-1000 km radius) mobile
lab and logistics support vehicles 4) plus
potentially an additional option of autopilot
driving of pressurized or logistics vehicles
(e.g, the athlete)

Critical Contributions from existing or future
Robotic Precursors Complete coverage. 0.5 meter
or less mapping of surface structure, topography,
morphology, relief, roughness and regolith
properties for mission planning. Higher
resolution for potential landing
sites. Assessment of hazards affecting long-term
occupation environmental (dust, particles,
radiation), and geophysical (seismic activity)
Implied Requirements and Investments Additional
high resolution orbital or robotic rover
reconnaissance performed for potential landing
sites, especially those in rugged terrain. Global
Network of geophysical stations and at least one
environmental station before human
return. Develop mobility for longer distance and
greater access over shorter time frame. Operate
during lunar night. Develop capability to operate
autonomously on farside (from Moon return to Mars
Science Driving Need for Development of Mobility
and Power Requirements
Geophones Retroreflector Seismic
Source Seismometer
Magnetometer Solar Cells Hub/Base Unit Heat Flow
Automated Lunar Geophysical Monitoring Station
Concept (ALGEP)
Automated Lunar Environmental Monitoring Station
Concept (LEMS)
Magnetometer Solar X-ray Monitor Search
Coil Neutral/Mobile Ion Spec CDH Radiator
Particle Analyzer (Lo E) Antenna
Assembly G-ray/Proton/Neutron Dust
Detector Solar/Battery Power Electric Field
Instrument Particle Analyzer (Hi E)
Seismic Station
Radiator with protective sides Gravity-Assist
ed Heat Pipe
Inner Al layer Radiation Shield Multi Thin
Layer Insulation
Identified Enabling Technologies Not Yet Fully
Incorporated Ultra Low Temperature/Ultra Low
Power Electronics (Digital and Analog) Micro-Batte
ries, Power Supplies operating at
ULT/ULP Flexible, Efficient Solar Film
  • Selected Targets
  • South Pole Aitken Basin
  • Multi-ring, largest (2600 km), oldest (pN)
    confirmed basin
  • Mid-basin exposed floor could reveal unexplored
    farside crust composition
  • Rim/Inner Ring extending from Mare Moscoviense
    (N) to Malapert (S)
  • Magnetic Anomaly, Chaotic terrain antipodal to
    Imbrium with Th anomaly
  • Volcano-tectonic deposits, anomalies through
    thinnest crust (N)
  • Well-defined ray from central highlands crater
    extending N to S
  • Tsiolkovskiy Crater/Tsiolkovskiy-Stark Basin
  • Compact, farside crater (D185 km UI) located in
    thickest portion of crust
  • Anomalously filled with mare basalt in manner
    typical of nearside basins
  • Beautifully defined central peak and other impact
  • Surrounded by ancient pre-Nectarian
    Tsiolkovskiy-Stark basin (D700 km)
  • Possibly on outer ring of South Pole Aitken

  • Target 1 South Pole-Aitken Basin
  • Prominent Trends volcanic deposits showing
    systematic increase in Th to west, Fe to east,
    and abundance of volcanic fill in thinner crust
    in north
  • lt1000 km traverses from 3 landing sites
  • Mare Ingenii, including magnetic swirl anomalies
    and antipodal terrain with thorium anomalies in
  • 2) Oppenheimer pyroclastics
  • 3) Apollo basin dark mare deposits with ancient
    crypto-mare to west/southwest
  • 4) Olivine Hill and surrounding troctolitic basin
    floor material, iron anomaly apparently rich in
    Mg Suite materials near Bose crater in center of
  • Schrödinger Basin and Valle, most prominent basin
    in southern SPA
  • Objectives 1a/b/c, 2a/b, 3a/b, 4a basin
    formation, chronology, origin, differentiation
    products, structure of farside crust and mantle.

Science Exploration Routes at Outpost (100s of
kilometers) Hydrogen Anomalies
deGerlache-Drygalski, Faustini-Amundsen,
Cabeus SPA Anatomy and Origin Shoemaker-Malapert,
Bombardment History of Southern South Pole Aitken
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Summary and Conclusions for Local and Regional
Scenario Development This work provides useful
inputs for NASA SMD/ESMD OSEWG in support of the
Constellation Program Office Lunar Surface
Systems Project efforts at JSC, LARC, and
JPL. Actual distance traveled is far greater than
as the crow flies round trip distance in rugged
terrain, and mobility requirements need to be
increased accordingly. Scale evaluation Local
scale studies fit within nearest term sortie
architecture, as construed during
this iteration, at cost of more limited focus in
unexplored area and greater risk of
addressing major science goals. Contextual to
regional studies, presented here, provide more
complete context and lower risk of addressing
major science goals, at cost of requiring more
advanced architecture. For longer range trips,
highest resolution topography and surface
roughness data will be needed for advance
planning, and the logistical requirements,
including knowledge of location and path of
travel, will be demanding. Available data was
marginally adequate for this task LRO will
provide much higher resolution topography (LOLA)
and images (LROC) necessary for this task. For
shorter range trips, careful advance landing site
selection within an area of interest will be time
consuming and critical, and after landing,
flexibility to take advantage of exposures
unobserved during planning will be critical. An
equipment list similar to that of Apollo with the
addition of portable/rover-mountable
multi-spectrometers, magnetometers, and
ground-penetrating radar would be
reasonable. Will we have the mass (500 kg/lander
for all non-essential payload) to support this?
The Future of Robotic Rovers for Science?
New Paradigm for Robotics Static structures are
optimized for a particular space, wheeled or
permanently appendaged vehicles are optimized for
a particular terrain with a range of slopes,
obstacles, and coefficients of friction. Either
approach can seriously limit reconnaissance and
exploration in natural or damaged human terrains.
Tetrahedral rovers could provide extreme
mobility, enhancing capabilities ranging from
uncovering clues to the origin of complex
structures to protecting humans from/in dangerous
environments through our patent protected ART
Addressable Reconfigurable Technology for
synthetic 1) skeletal muscular system with
self-similar components, 2) neural system
with bilevel (heuristic and autonomic)
intelligence across an evolvable interface, and
behavioral control (SANE Stability Algorithm for
Neural Entities).
Silicate Tetrahedra (SiO) arrangements nesosilic
ate sorosilicates chain silicates
cyclosilicates sheet silicates
Why The Tetrahedral Structure Properties and
Natural Analogues Minimal structure (fewest edges
and least volume per surface area) compared to
other polyhedra. Triangulated structure gives
great mechanical stability. Irregular Tetrahedra
most effectively fill volume as triangular facets
fill surface area. Tetrahedron properties make
it ubiquitous as a stable form in nature as
organic (C tetrahedral coordination) and
non-organic solid (silicate) systems.
What Can Nature Teach us about Locomotion?
Locomotion greatest energy expenditure, greatest
demand for power. Nature meets most
conservatively. Energy demand changes with style
of movement (gait), so more than one energy
metabolism system (from high power density to
high energy density) utilized. Opposing force
spring mechanisms reduce energy demand versus
speed 2 to 25 times, but off/on quality reduces
control. Changing gait requires control,
decreasing efficiency, increasing power
requirement. Limbs evolved to increase degrees of
freedom, range of gaits and terrain access,
requiring more control, decreasing efficiency,
increasing risk of failure (breakage). Wheels,
human invention, increase efficiency by rolling
on limited range of surfaces, limit terrain
access. TET increases degrees of freedom, gait
complexity, mobility, decreases risk of failure,
at cost of efficiency and complexity of control.
Use of opposing force spring mechanism to
increase efficiency as evolve from macro to micro
after Biewener, Animal Locomotion
Mechanisms in Mechanical and Biological Systems

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Right Now Progress in Meeting Mobility Challenges
Command and Control
Deployment Mechanisms

Low Relief Roll
Such a robot on Mars
Obstacle Climb
Cliff Chimney
Crevasse Bridge
Narrow Flatten
Repair Strut Trade
Gait Stow/Grow
TET Power Trade off greater power requirements
and less carrying capacity than wheeled rovers
for greater accessibility
The TET walker uses small motors capable of
generating pounds of torque to deploy struts.
Based on performance of our current prototype and
power scaling for small motors, tens of watts of
power output required for locomotion, its most
strenuous activity. Power provided to each strut
to reduce cabling and improve reliability. Laptop
multi-fuel cells eventually replaced by
deployable solar cells (latest 45 efficient)
with ultracapacitors attached to the payload

Linear Power Scaling for Small Motors in Model
Railroad Engines Size (scale) Voltage Current
Power G 1/25 25v 2-3 amps 50-75 watts O
1/48 25v 1-2 amps 25-50 watts S 1/64
25v 0.5-1 amps 12-25 watts HO 1/88
12v 0.5-1 amps 6-12 watts N 1/160
12v 0.25-.5 amps 3-6 watts
Vision System for rapid Navigation, Maneuvering,
Gait Selection must minimize power and bandwidth,
maximize speed robust, compact, reliable
vision system already under development at GSFC
for deep space, orbital, and surface exploration
applications. Laser-based scannerless range
imaging system consisting of laser diode emitter
array, low power high-resolution time-of-flight
ranging electronics, and mega-channel fiber-optic
based receiver. TET would combine short-range,
high-resolution version to support gait
selection, local maneuvering and immediate hazard
detection with longer range version for
trajectory planning and large-scale hazard
Appropriate Payload instruments compact, low
power (watts) and mass detectors (kilograms)
capable of measuring ambient conditions and/or
compositions of gases, particles, fields, liquid
or solid surfaces without sample preparation.
Detector components attached inside
tetrahedral nodal network or in central node
available for deployment down into cracks,
crevices, in rugged terrain. Examples of payload
instruments could include gas/liquid sensors on
a chip,/wire, magnetometers, combined XRF/XRD
spectrometers, magnetometers, laser ablation mass
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Vision for the Future Addressable Reconfigurable
Technology (ART) utilized at the MEMS and NEMS
levels in the future, will create material from
which to create a multi-functional mobile
infrastructure in part by more directly
harnessing biological analogues. For space
exploration, one structure/vehicle could act as
lander, rover, communicator, and transporter.
  • Science Payload Requirements according to Science
  • Bring down Environmental Monitoring Package,
    Tools and Instruments for Site Traverse and
    sampling package, and at least one rover (10
    kilometer range) on first crewed mission and
    expendables each time.
  • Make available additional pressurized rover to
    extend range to 25 km, and preferably 2
    pressurized rovers to extend range to 100-150 km
    as early as possible. If using supersortie
    architecture, bring down interior monitoring
    package as soon as possible.
  • Bring down internal laboratory facilities and
    external sample handling equipment for stays
    exceeding a couple of weeks.
  • If using outpost architecture, make available
    mobile lab and logistics unit to travel hundreds
    of kilometers when stay exceeds a month, and
    bring down interior and environmental monitoring
    packages to be distributed globally.
  • Fly orbital environmental and geophysical
    instruments with surface stations as ground
  • Architecture Outpost (return each time and
    acquire progressively greater mobility), with
    Sorties, separate missions to high priority
    science sites remote from outpost.

Target Summary Three targets, high priority,
globally distributed, in unexplored regions, with
very distinctive (volcanic and impact) features
with very different distributions (tens to
hundreds of kilometers), all providing
opportunity for multi-faceted, broad-scope
science, were selected and evaluated
Target 2 Tsiolkovskiy Crater lt1000 km traverses
from landing site along western edge 1) Traverse
spokes from Central peak (surfaces with
anomalous ages), dark albedo patch to north
bounded by north-trending rille, associated
kipukas, and networks of radial and concentric
structures concentrated around central peak and
along eastern wall 2) Circum-navigate crater
along floor/base of wall, crosses exposed impact
melt and landslides below terraces on NW and SW
portions of the wall. 3) Explore surrounding
ancient Tsiolkovskiy-Stark basin, partially
obliterated Fermi and Tsiolkovskiy ejecta
blankets grading into Fermi floor material to
west structures radiating S/SW into crypto-mare
of Neujmin and Waterman floors, perhaps
influenced by SPA ring structure Objectives 1a/c,
2a/b, 3a/b origin, differentiation products,
structure of farside crust and mantle, basin
Target 3 Aristarchus lt1000 km Field
Trips/Prominent Features 1) Explore
pyroclastic-rich Aristarchus Plateau, including
Schröters Valley, Cobra Head Crater and
surrounding smaller rilles, volcanic vents,
Herodotus embayed crater and well-preserved
Aristarchus crater. 2) Circum-navigate Plateau,
observing bounding scarp due to tectonic uplift
for exposure of underlying stratigraphy, further
investigating Aristarchus ejecta blanket, and
rays exposing underlying crust. 3) Travel south
across northern Oceanus Procellarum to cross
Marius Hills investigate swarms of domes, cones,
shield volcanoes, and rilles and Reiner Gamma
magnetic anomaly. 4) Travel northwest across
northern Oceanus Procellarum to Lichtenberg
Crater, an area of youngest mare basalt observed
on the Moon. 5) From different landing sites on
the plateau, travel to oldest flood basalts in
Oceanus Procellarum, Harbinger Montes, prominent
shield-like domes Gruithuisen Domes and Rumker
Mons. Objectives 1a/c, 2a/b/c, 3a/b, 8a origin,
differentiation products, structure of crust and
mantle chronology volcanic volatiles.
SANE Stability Algorithm for Neural Entities
Algorithm for determining the stability of
synthetic neural systems in the context of a
behavioral hyper space, where dimensions are
determined by subsystem (e.g., navigation,
locomotion) performance characteristics
resilience (R), planning (P), self-control
(SC). Can get more performance by allowing one
subsystem to become more dominant but with
greater potential for instability. But dont have
numbers and cant afford losers as in biological
systems. For all subsystems to operate within
stable behavioral space, trade off optimization
and generalization, delta changes must be of same
order of magnitude, determining appropriate
levels of complexity. SANE provides fundamental
tool for determining stability of synthetic and
natural neural systems by examining temporal
evolution of behavioral/psychological state
vector, tracking N element neural system within
this behavioral space through changes in a N
dimensional behavioral/psychological state vector
to produce a matrix and a perturbation vector
composed external and internal perturbations to
the system. Within this behavioral space, arena
of psychological stability formed with limits for
stable performance characteristic. Fundamental
applications to both natural and synthetic neural
systems, is key element in the architecture of
the NBF (neural basis function) synthetic neural
systems adaptive neural interface.
Psychological State Vectors
Psychological Stability Surface
MEMS/NEMS Surface Deployment efficient and
controllable mechanisms. MEMS model 1 carbon
fiber composite memory fabric wrapped shade-like
under compression on a roll attached to spring
applying force in opposite direction. NEMS model
2 Vertical dendritic Carbon NanoTube stalks
under compression are wrapped with tensional
coils. When released, dendrites deploy in 60
degree arcs toward opposite side. dendritic
density and order determines reflectivity and
strength. Deploy/Stow states induced in CNTs
through the flow of positive or negative charges.

Analogous Biological Mechanism. Leaf closure
results from electrochemically induced reduction
in cell osmotic water pressure. Pulvini, highly
permeable motor organs, contract due to outflow
of water triggered by rise in sucrose on the side
where the plant has been touched (thigmonastic
response). Carbon nanotubes exhibit structural
changes in response to movement of electrons or
http// rkr/Biology203/lectures