NASA Lunar Surface Habitat and Remote Exploration Demonstration Project 921194
The U.S. is preparing to return to the Moon by the end of the present decade, and to then establish a permanent base within the next. Establishment of permanent, eventually self-sufficient, Lunar bases will provide critical experience in learning how to construct, operate and occupy planetary-surface facilities; make use of in-situ resources; and prepare human crews for more arduous interplanetary missions. The development of safe, effective and reliable systems to support these missions requires that independently engineered subsystems be fully integrated and tested under increasingly realistic and representational conditions before relying on their use in operational settings. Toward the development of such technological integration and demonstration capabilities, the NASA Ames Research Center is currently conducting the Human Exploration Demonstration Project (HEDP) to simulate “A Day in The Life of a Planetary-Surface Habitat.”
For the early demonstration phase of the HEDP, simulation scenarios have been designed to illustrate a range of events that are projected to occur in a Lunar surface exploration habitat. A full-scale simulator of a Lunar habitat will integrate both habitable residential and work environments. A Lunar-terrain-surface simulator will be located external to and approximately 1 mile remote from the habitat. Located on the terrain surface will be robotic devices which will to be used in work assignments and as targets for workstation commands. Use of these devices is not for development of robots per se, but to create realistic operational scenarios equivalent to those anticipated on the Lunar surface. The habitat and terrain environments will be coupled through an underlying data network that will include a common set of services and provide a medium for overall system integration. A number of these services will utilize artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to maximize autonomy and minimize crew work loads.
While the initial HEDP simulation scenarios involve a Lunar environment, in fact, the HEDP system and subsystem designs and conditions are also largely applicable to the environment of Mars as well as to conditions aboard an interplanetary space craft. Demonstration of various aspects of human exploration and habitation on extraterrestrial surfaces is a primary objective for the HEDP. However, some of the technologies to be demonstrated are also deemed applicable to unmanned precursor mission functions involving remote telepresence and teleoperations. Thus, the HEDP will provide a unique opportunity to address a broad spectrum of advanced mission operations by bridging between the early requirements for robotic systems with control at Earth-based workstations and later, partially-automated planetary-exploration systems with local control.