Conference Paper

SAC architecture for the 2018 Mars Sample Return mission

DOI: 10.1109/AERO.2011.5747279 Conference: Aerospace Conference, 2011 IEEE
Source: IEEE Xplore


Reducing the mission risk was our primary driver in developing the Sample Acquisition and Caching (SAC) architecture. In particular, the main goal was to reduce number of steps from the moment the core is acquired to a point where it is inserted into the earth return cache. The proposed architecture consists of three elements: (1) a rotary percussive drill with integrated core break-off and retention system, (2) a 5-DOF robotic arm for positioning of the drill on a rock, and (3) a bit carousel with an earth return cache. The drill acquires and retains 1 cm diameter and 5 cm long cores. The core, together with a drill bit, is then inserted into an Earth return cache or a bit storage carousel. A new drill bit is attached to the drill for acquisition of the next rock core. Once the cache is full, the arm places the cache on the ground, to be later picked up by a fetch rover. The same drill also uses custom drill bits for brushing and abrading of rock surfaces, for rock powder acquisition and for acquisition of short cores for in-situ analysis. These bits are used for rock interrogation prior to acquisition of cores for sample return. After the cache is placed on the ground and primary mission is over, these bits enable further exploration of the Martian near subsurface.

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    ABSTRACT: An integrated concept for core sample acquisition and caching with potential application to a Mars caching mission has been developed. The concept utilizes a five degree-of-freedom manipulator arm to deploy a rotary percussive coring tool as well as to provide alignment, feed, and preload for the tool. The tool provides coring, core break-off, core retention and bit capture and release for bit change-out. In this concept, a sample is acquired directly into its sample tube in the coring bit and bit change-out is used to transfer the sample to the caching subsystem where it is sealed and stored.
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    ABSTRACT: As far back as the 1960's, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has studied the idea of sending a robotic mission to Mars for the purpose of retrieving and bringing back to Earth samples of the Martian environment. The purpose of such a mission would be to take advantage of the capability to study Mars to the level of detail only possible in Earth laboratories. With the most recent discoveries by a small fleet of robotic spacecraft currently exploring the red planet in-situ, this idea of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission is once again at the forefront of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. With an earliest launch date set for late 2013, current MSR studies still face a long list of mission architecture options and technology challenges. This paper will attempt to summarize some of the Guidance and Control challenges, even if it succeeds in only scratching the surface.
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