The Mars Society Mars Society IV
Stanford University - Aug. 23 - 26, 2001
Gus Frederick's Presentations
(Click on the PowerPoint icon to download presentation)

PowerPoint IconInvasion of the SpeleoBots
(Extreme Exploration; with Dr. Penelope Boston)

Invasion of the SpeleoBotsTerrestrial lava tube caves are natural receptacles for accumulations of water. Often, due to lower temperatures coupled with the insulation properties of the surrounding rock, these accumulations are in the form of ice. Locating and cataloging similar features on Mars could be of value for the search for life and in helping to determine past climatic conditions on the Red Planet. Such features may also prove useful in future colonization efforts for shelter and as a potential source of water.

But how to explore them? One unique approach recently proposed employs specialized swarms of insect-like mini-robots accompanying one or more flexible rover/relay station robots. Utilizing a robotic fractal approach that starts with a wide view of a promising area, then zooms in to reveal detail at a series of smaller scales, the approach mimics the actions of a scientist in the field. This discussion will examine one such proposal, the "Mother Goose Mission" presented to NASA/JPL as part of the Mars Scout mission, planned for the 2006/7 launch window. Mother Goose makes use of a robotically piloted glider that searches for a suitable location from the air, then lands to release the pilot; a six-legged walking robot named Mother Goose. Mother's onboard sensors provide details to supplement the glider's eye view at a smaller scale. For a closer view of small hard to access locations, like a cave entrance or shielded crevasses, Mother releases her "goslings" to explore at an even smaller level. The baby bug-bot goslings return to mother to upload data and recharge their batteries. The multiple redundancy allows for the loss of one or more individuals without dramatically jeopardizing the mission.


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