Exploration and Utilization of Extra-Terrestrial Bodies
Co-Chairs: Robert P. Mueller, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL; and Kris Zacny, Ph.D., Honeybee Robotics, Pasadena, CA
This topic will focus on methodologies, techniques, instruments, concepts, missions and system level designs associated with exploration and utilization of Solar System bodies, with emphasis on the Moon, Mars, Ocean Worlds, and Asteroids. The topic covers both robotic and human exploration. Many of the various types of civil, geological, mining, chemical and materials engineering fields are needed to sustain space exploration and space commercialization. The topic also covers legal and ethical aspects of space exploration and space mining.
Standard practices will have to be adapted, and new practices will have to be developed, to be able to rely on the natural resources of near-Earth asteroids, the Moon, and Mars to sustain human and robotic activities in space. Engineering systems and economics concepts, as well as mechanical, robotic, and structural engineering solutions are needed as well. While there is always room for robust and innovative new concepts, the testing, refining, and more testing of previously proposed concepts are especially sought.
Special Session Topics
Robotic Mobility in Extreme Terrain
Session Organizers: Colin Creager and Kyle Johnson, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH
When exploring extra-terrestrial bodies, such as the Moon and Mars, the terrain can often be very difficult to traverse. Examples of such terrain challenges are very soft soil, sharp rocks, and steep slopes. Adding to these challenges is the fact that the terrain is often unknown before a mission, making it more difficult to plan accordingly. The desire to explore regions such as these means that unconventional methods of mobility may be necessary. This topic is focused on novel methods, tools, or technologies that serve to improve the traversability of an exploration vehicle in extreme terrain. This includes, but is not limited to, the development or use of robotic systems, components, sensors, software, or techniques. Emphasis should be on mobility improvements in the areas of efficiency, capability, or safety.
Nature and Bio-inspired Concepts for Human Space Exploration
Session Organizers: Andrew Trunek, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH; and Vikram Shyam, Ph.D., NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH
NASA has been commissioned to establish a long-term presence on the Moon and ultimately Mars. The Moon and Mars are extreme environments; Earth can also present equally extreme environments at the depths of the ocean or in glacial caves. Extraterrestrial construction of structures to support human exploration will require new approaches due to numerous constraints. Just to name a few that will force a new approach are: limited launch mass, launch frequency, limited energy, temperature extremes, minimal atmosphere, lack of liquid water, abrasive dust, cosmic radiation and availability of other resources. Over billions of years, nature has supported the origin, evolution and continuous presence of life and its structures on Earth. Nature is similarly constrained to only the resources immediately available while minimizing the use of energy. However, nature forms magnificent structures that vary greatly in size and complexity from the Great Barrier Reef to the microscopic cyanobacteria. This session will focus on design concepts, methods and techniques of construction for human space exploration that are inspired by or that mimic nature. A few examples might be: self-assembly of materials, multifunctional materials and structures, closed-loop habitat systems, 3D printed materials, structures that are organic, passive or active and autonomous bots.
Session Organizers: Yosi Bar-Cohen and Steve Vance, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
Ocean Worlds are celestial bodies with substantial liquid water. This includes Earth, and potential water-rich exoplanets and moons. In the outer Solar System there are five known ocean worlds, icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn with volumes of ice-covered liquid exceeding Earth's. Similar oceans are suspected in many more places in the outer solar system. Increasingly, space exploration agencies, including NASA and ESA, are seeking to explore these bodies to assess their habitability and to look for extraterrestrial life. This special session is a forum for reporting research and technology development related to the exploration of ocean worlds.
“Mining on the Moon and Mars” - Space Mining
Session Organizers: Purushotham Tukkaraja, Ph.D., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD; and Rob Mueller, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL
NASA envisions that In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is key to future successful sustainable space exploration, including the Moon and Mars. Successful ISRU could also extend sustained human presence to the planets and moons to enable eventual settlement. However, most of the terrestrial mining and mineral processing methods are not going to be applicable for extra-terrestrial mining, with low gravity, thermal management and vacuum being the major operational issues. This special topic deals with innovative concepts, methods, designs, research, development, and applications related to all aspects of space mining and mineral processing on the Moon and Mars. Papers are solicited on topics including, but not limited to, the following: Resource Assessment, drilling, blasting (rock fragmentation), excavation, loading, haulage, and mineral processing techniques, use of robotics, in-situ/local resource utilization, tele-operation of mining equipment, automation and remote mining.
Session Organizer: Tony Colaprete, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
The economic evaluation of natural resources depends on the accuracy of resource distribution estimates. A frequently discussed lunar resource is water ice, however, we currently do not have a sufficient understanding of the distribution of water or its forms at the scales it would be extracted and processed. New observations and analysis approaches are needed to evaluate the distribution of water.
In-Situ Resources: What Does the Moon Have to Offer Us?
Session Organizers: Melissa Sampson, Ph.D., Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO; and Jeff Hopkins, Astrobotic Technology, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA
In order to properly build on the Moon, we need to understand what local resources we have available to us, how to find them, and where they are located. What does lunar prospecting look like and how do we use what we find to build things in the harsh lunar environment? This session presents papers on various aspects of ISRU available on planetary surfaces and beyond.
Planetary Environment Impact on Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) Requirements for Space Systems
Session Organizers: Alexander M. Jablonski, Ph.D., Canadian Space Agency, Ottawa, Canada; and Kin F. Man, Ph.D., NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Currently, many space agencies and international scientific teams are involved in planning planetary missions to terrestrial bodies such as the Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and to natural moons of outer planets such as Europa, or even to near-Earth asteroids. Space systems for these missions have to operate in different or more extreme environments. Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) requirements need to be developed for more stringent qualification testing. Qualification tests could be at the assembly/subsystem level or at the full spacecraft or rover/flight system level. This session focuses on the impact of planetary environments on AIT requirements for space systems to survive the operational phase of the mission and design or mitigation techniques to improve their survival. The list of environmental conditions having impact on the planetary system operation might include: temperature, vacuum, radiation, specific planetary atmospheres, dust and soil conditions, other geophysical effects (e.g., seismic and other activities), length of the day and night; and effect of the location or of the area of operation of a specific stationary or non-stationary planetary system. This session will cover space systems for exploration of all planetary bodies, with the exception of lunar systems, which will be covered in a separate session.