NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Terrestrial and Extra-Terrestrial Balloons and Aerobots
PROPOSAL TITLE:Aerobot Sampling and Handling System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W 34th Street
New York ,NY 10001 - 2320
(646) 459 - 7812

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paul   Bartlett
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY  10001 -2320
(646) 459 - 7812

Honeybee Robotics proposes to:
?Derive and document the functional and technical requirements for Aerobot surface sampling and sample handling across a range of aerial platforms, mission applications and exploration targets, like Mars and Titan.
?Create a preliminary design for a tether or boom deployed, reusable, low mass & volume surface and subsurface sample acquisition and handling system that can acquire ice and icy regolith samples and perform automated sample transfer. We will focus on designs relevant to environments and sample types on Mars and Titan.
?Demonstrate proof-of-concept, subsystem-level hardware that can acquire a subsurface ice or icy regolith sample deployed from a platform capable of simulating the horizontal and vertical motion of an Aerobot vehicle.

The proposed innovations primary significance would be to:
?Provide mission planners with the performance specifications, necessary accommodations, concept of operations and the functional requirement information needed to develop new concepts and exploration applications for Aerobot platforms that have sampling and handling capabilities.
?Identify and address the critical challenges surrounding tether or boom deployed, very low-preload sampling systems targeted toward consolidated materials (e.g. ice or rock).
?Test and characterize the effectiveness of a variety of sample methods, relevant to Aerobot platforms, to acquire ice cores, chips, icy regolith and even liquid samples with integrity and volatiles retained.
?Demonstrate sampling at a safe distance and in a safe manner from the aerial platform.
?Demonstrate, with analysis and hardware, the basic feasibility of an Aerobot sampling and handling system.
?Provide requirement information and test data about an existing system, Honeybee's Touch and Go Sample System (TGSS), capability to acquire ice, icy regolith and even liquid samples from a platform with both horizontal and vertical motion during sampling operations.

An Aerobot-based sampling and handling system would be applicable to many future NASA missions, including those solicited by programs such as Scout, Discovery and New Frontiers to Mars, Titan, Venus, comets, asteroids, Jupiter's icy moons, and other planetary bodies. There are many compelling sites of high scientific interest to Aerobot missionplanners. These sites, which include Martian gully formations, ice-covered Martian polar caps and ice-filled craters, the rough Venusian highlands, the icy and varied terrain of Titan, and volatile-rich regolith on comets, would be better suited for exploration from an Aerobot platform. Many of these targets mentioned contain trace to large amounts of water- or methane-ice, so a device capable of ice coring and maintaining sample integrity, such as that proposed, is of great interest to the science community. In addition to ices, the sampling device could be used to sample materials like regolith or even soft rock outcrop, and a modified version could be developed to acquire and store liquid and/or slushy samples. Added benefits to employing an Aerobot platform are that the vehicle can both cover and analyze large distances more easily than a rover and provide aerial context for each sample and site analyzed. The feasibility of sampling from Aerobot platforms, and the requirements placed on the platforms in order to sample has not been adequately verified.

Military Applications
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a subsurface access capability could be used autonomously to acquire surface and subsurface samples where chemical, biological and radiological weapons and materials are suspected. This capability would allow the detection and characterization of potentially deadly Weapons of Mass Destruction before soldiers could be put in harms way. Such systems could be also be used to characterize soils for their qualities relevant to vehicle mobility and constructing fortifications. Certain systems could be modified to empace counter-mobility devices and Unattended Ground Sensors.

Ice Penetration Technologies
Bit and cutting head geometries and materials are critical elements in improving rate of penetration, specific energies for drilling and bit wear. Geometries and materials are also very sensitive to the types of rock, regolith, soils, ice and liquids targeted for penetration and acquisition. Development on the Athena Mini-Corer demonstrated that increases in penetration rate by as much as a factor of 60 could be achieved with improvements in bit geometry alone. The development of new materials and bit geometries for the Aerobot Sampling and Handling System, could likely produce spin-off penetration technologies suited for use in ice and other consolidated materials.

Innovative refinements in cutting materials and geometries could provide improvements in ice climbing tools and other penetration technologies.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

In-situ Resource Utilization
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems

Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12