EVA Exploration Support Using Integrated Navigation, Networking and Communications Systems 2007-01-3087
In future lunar and Mars exploration missions the ability to provide the crewmember navigation information will be critical. Exploration demands that Extravehicular Activity (EVA) astronauts be provided the capability to operate with greater autonomy in accomplishing complex EVA missions than has been the case previously. Robust crew information interfaces and navigation support integral to the EVA spacesuit system are expected to be minimum requirements. Navigation support must allow the EVA crew to determine their position relative to EVA target locations, satellite imagery and maps and assist them in walking or riding to the desired targets on the planetary surface. Together, these needs suggest a requirement for an integrated system that combines data and voice communications, a high performance visual display, and navigation support in a design that is compatible with spacesuit environmental and packaging restrictions and with unique EVA crew interface demands. Unlike current Earth surface operations, lunar and Mars missions will require that these capabilities be provided with a minimum of infrastructure and without the availability of an extensive network of satellites like the Global Positioning System (GPS).
NASA has included crew information interface experiments in its Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) to better understand the detailed requirements for such a system and has evolved a test platform called the Communications Avionics and Informatics (CAI) pack to support those studies. During 2006, Hamilton Sundstrand and Raytheon have worked with NASA to integrate a ground based navigation system developed for military uses into this test environment for a preliminary assessment of feasibility and utility. The results show significant promise and the potential for near term development of a more fully integrated test system. This paper describes the test systems, test activities and results and discusses possible future experimentation.