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Mars Drill
Links to broadcast quality audio files and transcripts, May 11, 2005 interview with Carol Stoker, research scientist, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, principal investigator for the Mars Drill field test, project.

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Full Transcript (below)

4. Q: Does a scientist have to give the Mars drill specific instructions for each thing it does?

Stoker: "This is a very complex robotic device. It does a lot of different things. In fact, I think it may be one of the most complex robotic devices ever built -- certainly, the most complex robotic drilling system ever built. It runs on the basis of a set of commands that are programmed in a – basically in a programming language that tell it to do each one of the steps. And that is – that programming language is modular in the sense that an operator can, ah, adjust commands, you know, send it a specific set of commands for each day or each command upload to have it do different things. So, on some days it's going to drill. On other days it's actually going to put a set of down-hole instruments in the hole left by the drill. So, when that occurs, for example, the entire deck of the platform rotates by 60 degrees. And so it's kind of like a lazy Susan. And on one side of the platform is a drill, and on another side of it is this down-hole instrument suite called the Bore Hole Inspection System. So, the entire drill deck will rotate, and the down-hole instruments then will be dropped down the hole and will, ah, it, they have like a pulley system that lowers them down the hole and precisely locates and points instruments that are, that are located on this Bore Hole Inspection System. So, all of this is being controlled – you know, whether it's going to drill that day, or whether it's going to lower the Bore Hole Inspection System, what data it will acquire. Ah, all that is being controlled by a set of software commands that are provided through a computer that could be located on the Earth." (1:55 MINUTES)