Astronaut Path Planning on Mars, Hawaii and Idaho
Johannes J. Norheim, MVL
MS Candidate '18
Abstract: The day we put people on Mars, they will require much higher levels of autonomy and new ways of operating their missions; Lunar and near Earth space missions have always relied on the near real-time communication link we have with Earth, but a mission to Mars would have significant bandwidth limitations and communication delays requiring a paradigm shift. BASALT(Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains) is a NASA research project driven by this challenge in the context of extravehicular scientific activities and exploration; designing, testing, and deploying an integrated solution through analog missions simulating Mars operational constraints.
Here we present one of BASALTs capabilities: SEXTANT, a path planning tool to guide astronauts as they would traverse the Martian terrain during their scientific and exploration endeavors. Data from analog missions in June 2016 at Craters of The Moon in Idaho, and Nov 2016 at the Mauna Ulu region in Hawaii have highlighted key challenges: how to quickly find paths with large terrain datasets, what is the lowest resolution of map data for producing good path plans, and how do we incorporate other factor from the terrain other than the elevation to make plans. Finally, we will present some work addressing the challenge of navigating these paths using augmented reality with Microsoft’s HoloLens.