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Barbara Schwartz

RELEASE: 94-027 March 30, 1994



Scientists and engineers from Johnson Space Center are participating in the operation of a Russian-built automated rover, known as the Marsokhod, which is being tested at the Amboy Crater in Death Valley, California, March 31-April 2.

The test will include remote operations of the vehicle from JSC in both a Mars exploration and a lunar exploration mode. In the Mars operation mode, a scene from the rover cameras will be transmitted every few minutes, followed by transmission of a new set of driving instructions to the vehicle. When the vehicle has performed its directed function, a new scene will be transmitted. This simulates the delay time in transmitting radio signals from Mars to Earth, when the planets are separated by 55 to 400 million kilometers. For the lunar simulation, the transmissions will be only seconds apart.

The test is a cooperative effort among researchers at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, who developed the teleoperation technology; McDonnell Douglas Corporation in Huntington Beach, California, who worked with the Russians to add robotic manipulation capabilities to their rover chassis; and the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California, who brought the international group together because of their interest in the exploration of Mars.

The team from JSC built the Mossbauer spectrometer, a device able to analyze the composition of the rocks in the area of exploration. The spectrometer could provide a new capability for future teleoperated robotic exploration of Mars or the Moon, allowing scientists to visually and chemically analyze the composition of surface materials.



Reporters and photographers are invited to visit the demonstration in the Space Station Operations Control Room, Bldg. 30, anytime between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on April 1. Video from the rover will be in both three-dimension and standard television formats.

Media must be badged in the Newsroom in Building 2 and escorted to the Control Room. Please call Barbara Schwartz at 713-483-5111 if you wish to attend or if you have questions.



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