Desert FLEAS: FIeld Tests of EVA/Robotic Collaborative Planetary Geological Exploration

TitleDesert FLEAS: FIeld Tests of EVA/Robotic Collaborative Planetary Geological Exploration
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsAkin DL, Saripalli S, Hodges K, Young K, Davis KP, Salmoiraghi AJ, Di Capua M
Conference Name43rd International Conference on Environmental Systems
Date Published07/2013
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
KeywordsEVA, geology, robotics

The paper serves as a mid-program review for the Desert Field Lessons in Engineering and Science (Desert FLEAS), a joint University of Maryland/Arizona State University investigation of collaborative EVA/robotic geological exploration of planetary surfaces. After a brief synopsis of three prior field series and discussion of lessons learned to date, this paper details plans for the last two tests in planned series: Desert FLEAS IV tests, scheduled for autumn, 2013 in northern Arizona, and Desert FLEAS V in spring 2014 in southern Arizona. These sites represent an order of magnitude increase in the terrain challenges for both the human subjects and the RAVEN support rover, with deep ravines frequently obstructed by rockfalls. The upcoming test series will focus on extended (multisite, multikilometer) traverses by single and paired EVA subjects, in conjunction with the revised and upgraded RAVEN support rover. Detailed test objectives will include the use of smaller survey rovers to assess upcoming transit routes and provide preliminary scouting prior to human arrival, as well as the experimental use of alternate technologies to reach rock sampling sites not accessible by simple walking or climbing in the space suit simulators. Quantitative data will be collected by the BPMS and in-suit metabolic workload systems based on oxygen uptake and CO2 production, as well as standardized subjective evaluations including Cooper-Harper ratings and NASA Task Load Index studies. The paper also summarizes collaborations with the HI-SEAS analogue studies in Hawaii, which has adopted the UMd space suit simulators for EVA operations, and ends with a discussion of the value of an ongoing series of field analogue simulations.