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M.A.R.T.E. Chronicle Drill Simulation
MARTE drill simulations
The Mission Simulation directed by the science team located at Centro de Astrobiologia in Madrid began on schedule on Sept. 5, starting with a training session for the science team directed by MARTE PI Carol Stoker.

Image Left: Science team members analyze data from the mission.

Training data was obtained from the test cores produced during the systems integration end-to-end test and represented a "mission success" data product i.e. a first data product collected by the lander and relayed to the science team. The data is accessible from a web server located at the CAB in Madrid, and may be accessed by science team members throughout the world.

Image Left: Drill bit extracted from the borehole.

Instrument data as well as information on drill and other mission operations status may be directly downloaded and reviewed collaboratively. Based on the data available to them, the science team formulates a daily data request plan to be sent to the mission operations team leader, Howard Cannon who translates this request into a command set sent directly to the drilling "lander". This plan might include instructions to perform specific operations such as: "drill and acquire remote science measurements for 2 cores", "deploy the borehole inspection system into the drill hole and image and obtain Raman Spectra across a specific range of depths", or "perform bioassay measurements at a location in a core".

Image Left: Howard Cannon programs the executive to perform a series of robotic operations under direction of the Science Team.

The drilling plan is evaluated in context of the status of the equipment and, if feasible, is accepted and executed through a series of robotic operations that are monitored closely by the field team. Human intervention may be required to ensure the fidelity of the simulation. One area requiring consider-able human intervention is a process for contamination control managed by Dr. Rosalba Bonaccorsi. This problem is specific to the Earth-simulation environment but has been addressed in an effort to add some degree of realism to the bioassay measurements.

Image Left: Rosalba Bonaccorsi monitors contamination levels using ATP lumenometer.

After the first week the simulation process is running smoothly. A few subtle problems with instrument operation and data processing were discovered and corrected, and the team interaction protocols have been adjusted to enhance productivity. At the conclusion of the first week of the drilling simulation we have reached a depth of 2.2m

NASA Ames Research Center, Steve Dunagan and Carol Stoker