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Robotic In-Situ Surface Exploration System (RISES)
February 11, 2015

Thomas Evans
West Virginia University

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is a critical endeavor that will mature multiple technologies for future deep space exploration. ARM seeks to capture a near-Earth asteroid and place it in a stable lunar orbit where astronauts can explore and bring back samples from the captured asset.

One of the complex processes being studied while capturing an asteroid is landing a robotic craft on the surface of a larger parent asteroid and using dexterous robotic manipulation to pick up a boulder from the surface and secure it for transportation to lunar orbit. The Robotic In-Situ Surface Exploration System (RISES) proposed in this work aims to develop mining sensor technologies - such as sonic wave velocity sensors and Schmidt Hammer technology - to provide in-situ analysis of the asteroid material which, in turn, can aid the robotic manipulation/pickup procedure and an ISRU system by understanding material strength and composition, respectively.

The sensing capabilities of sonic wave velocity and Schmidt Hammer sensors on a scale relative to ARM objectives will be studied and the requirements to advance such technology in support of ARM and ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) will be determined. The integration of the matured sensor system will be applied and tested on advanced robotic manipulator platforms which will utilize robot kinematics for accurate position measurements between the sensor transducer and receiver. This testing will advance the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) of the RISES system and demonstrate the application to future NASA missions and objectives.

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Page Last Updated: February 12th, 2015
Page Editor: Loura Hall