This coming Monday, we will have 2 talks, 30-minutes-long each. First talk is by Cody Paige and Ferrous Ward, followed by the DE&I committee to discuss the committee’s Vision, Mission, and upcoming Town-Hall event. Details below.
Monday, March 13, 2023
Zoom link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/99313053821
Talk #1 Speakers: Cody Paige and Ferrous Ward
Title: Development of the Concept of Operations for depth-data collection on the Lunar Surface
Abstract—Space start-ups, industry partners, and the Commercial Lunar Payload Services are all contributing to making space more accessible. Using low-cost technologies in partnership with these services furthers this accessibility opening the scientific exploration of data collected in space to a broader range of researchers. As part of MIT’s work with the Resources for Exploration & Science of OUR Cosmic Environment (RESOURCE) project with NASA Ames and the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, we are working with NASA Ames to develop the concept of operations (ConOps) for a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) LiDAR and RGB camera for lunar surface exploration in Virtual Reality (VR). This is a low-cost camera that has been evaluated for flight-compliant materials and modified to reduce mass. The camera was flight qualified to TRL 6 including thermal vacuum and random vibration testing. The camera is manifested on the Nova-C lander, which flies on the Intuitive Machines mission IM-2, landing at the lunar south pole for a mission duration of 14 days (one lunar daylight cycle).
We will discuss the development of the ConOps for this mission and the preliminary lab tests used to assess software, lighting conditions and capture methodology. Using a custom software developed for the mission we optimized image resolution while minimizing data and power requirements through a series of ground tests. The results will be used to provide data requirements as well as to refine the rover motions needed to achieve optimal VR reconstruction quality.
The data collected during this mission, as well as the lessons learned from the COTS camera modifications and ConOps development, will provide a low-cost opportunity for a broader range of scientists to access lunar surface exploration. Given the challenges associated with exploring craters and lava tubes, regions of interest for in-situ resource utilization, enabling exploration through VR could allow for safer methods for astronauts to both train for upcoming missions, such as the Artemis missions, and for robotic data collection to supplement astronaut exploration in challenging areas. These methods can also be expanded to sensitive environments on Earth providing a methodology to create a virtual environment to give access to areas like the Galapagos or the Antarctic to scientists around the world without increasing our environmental impact.