August 1, 2014.
A proposed architecture for future planetary sample return missions would consist of capturing on-orbit a sample container (collected from the surface of a planetary body and launched into space) and transferring the sample container into an earth return/reentry capsule. A challenge to this proposed architecture is integrating space applicable sensor technologies with sufficient capturing devices. While useful technologies on Earth, Earth-related rendezvous/capture technologies, such as magnetic field sensors, sound-based sensors, and Earth orbit-based radios like GPS, are not applicable to space. Inspired by the in-orbit sample capture challenge, NASA JPL has designed the Space Rendezvous And Capture Experiment (Space RACE). During this project, we would conduct a proof of concept of the Space RACE challenge by designing a small mobile robot platform traversing along a velodrome track to detect/capture a mock-up orbiting sample moving along the same track. The Space RACE challenge would inspire technologists to help deliver solutions to the on-orbit sample capture task by facilitating an exciting racing environment in order to foster the required innovation for such a critical challenge.
Electrical and Computer Engineering | Mechanical Engineering
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013 and Grant No. 0833353. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).