BioBot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration

TitleBioBot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAkin, D. L., K. Malone, B. Sack, and J. Zhu
KeywordsMan/System Technology and Life Support

The BioBot concept consists of a robotic rover which is capable of traversing the same terrain as a spacesuited human. It carries the primary life support system for the astronaut, including consumables, atmosphere revitalization systems (e.g., CO2 scrubbing, humidity and temperature management, ventilation fan), power system (e.g., battery, power management and distribution),and thermal control system (e.g., water sublimator, cooling water pump), along with umbilical lines to connect to the supported astronaut. Although not technically part of life support, it would be logical for the BioBot to also provide long-range communications, video monitoring, tool and sample transport, and other functions to enable and enhance EVA productivity in planetary surface exploration.The design reference scenario for this concept is that astronauts involved in future lunar or Mars exploration will be on the surface for weeks or months rather than days, and will be involved in regular EVA operations. It is not unreasonable to think of geologists spending several days inEVA exploration each week over a prolonged mission duration, with far more ambitious operational objectives than were typical of Apollo. In this scenario, each astronaut will be accompanied by a "BioBot", which will transport their life support system and consumables, an extended umbilical and umbilical reel, and robotic systems capable of controlling the position and motion of the umbilical. The astronaut will be connected to the robot via the umbilical, carrying only a small emergency open-loop life support system similar to those contained in every PLSS. The robotic mobility base will be designed to be capable of traveling anywhere the astronaut can walk, and will also be useful as a transport for the EVA tools, science instrumentation, and collected samples. In addition, the BioBot can potentially carry the astronaut on traverses as well. Such a system will also be a significant enhancement to public engagement in these future exploration missions, as the robotic vehicles can also support high-resolution cameras and high bandwidth communications gear to providehigh-definition video coverage of each crew throughout each EVA sortie.

Citation Keyakin_biobot_2019-1