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Design and Development of a Telerobotic Simulation System (TSS) for Remote Control of Rovers in a Realistic Lunar Analog

Nathan Marx
Delivered As: 
Abstract Text: 

To study the formation of the first stars and black holes, our group at the University of Colorado Boulder proposes to build a radio telescope array to be telerobotically deployed on the farside of the Moon. Dipoles will be embedded on flexible Kapton arms radiating from a central electronics package. With the elements of the telescope array spanning several kilometers, the deployment system will need to cover these distances with relative ease. The Orion program intends to send astronauts to orbit the Moon early in the next decade as part of the “Proving Ground” phase of NASA’s Journey to Mars. However, the costs of having astronauts deploy a telescope are significant. Unlike a human deployment, telerobotic systems will allow for low cost control from lunar orbit at, for example, the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange Point (65,000 km above the farside). Building on our previous work, we have developed a Telerobotic Simulation System (TSS) to test human controllability of remote rovers in an outdoor lunar analog setting. Consisting of a control station and a rover, our system has the ability to simulate connections of different quality between the rover and remote operator. Our rover, based on a COTS RC car chassis, includes a retrofitted suite of position sensors, as well as two cameras, one of which rotates with operator commands. The operator controls the rover from the station with two digital joysticks, and receives a real time video feed from the two rover cameras. With this system, we have conducted further experiments into factors which are important in allowing useful human control of remote rovers. Funding support for this research was provided by the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

J. E. Bleacher
SSERVI Identifier: 

Recognizing that science and human exploration are mutually enabling, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to address basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies. As a virtual institute, SSERVI funds investigators at a broad range of domestic institutions, bringing them together along with international partners via virtual technology to enable new scientific efforts."