NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 S5.03-8882
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Sample Collection, Processing, and Handling Devices
PROPOSAL TITLE: One-Meter Class Drilling for Planetary Exploration

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(212) 966-0661

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kiel Davis
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(646) 459-7809

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The purpose of the proposed effort is to understand and characterize the fundamental limitations of drilling one to three meters into challenging materials which may be encountered in robotic drilling in situ planetary missions. The one-to-three meter range has been identified as a critical regime for planetary exploration; e.g., for potentially identifying subsurface organic material on Mars or polar resource deposits on the Moon. While there has been some technology development in planetary subsurface access, there is currently no surefire flight-like approach to robotically getting to this depth through layers of material like rock (most challenging being basalt), regolith, and icy mixtures.
In Phase 1, we will experimentally identify the relative utility of rotary vs. rotary percussive drilling in the most challenging target materials under a variety of operational parameters, and extrapolate these results to three meters. Thus far there has been no apples-to-apples comparison of rotary vs. rotary-percussive drilling in this depth regime, though it is believed that rotary-percussive drilling has many advantages over rotary drilling including better penetration in hard targets. This will be a very test-heavy program. We will minimize costs by using an already available test rig - our one-of-a-kind one-meter class lunar drilling platform with rotary and rotary-percussive capability. This is an instrumented rig so we can measure system health and reactions back into the platform and we have the ability to vary drilling operational parameters to test the limits of the system. We will perform tests in Mars and lunar simulant, also readily available in our extensive library of planetary analog materials. Using the lessons learned from Phase 1 and Honeybee Robotics' 13+ years experience in subsurface access and sampling, in Phase 2 we will build a 1-3 meter drill capable of penetrating a representative 3 meter test column of layered Mars and/or lunar simulant.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group has identified subsurface access as a major technology need for future Mars science missions. Subsurface access on Mars is key to the search for life and understanding conditions favorable to life including the presence and morphology of forms of water, as well as for geological investigations. Potentially relevant missions may include Astrobiology Field Laboratory, Mid-Size Rovers, Scout, and Mars Sample Return.
A lunar subsurface access tool would not only be of scientific interest, but is also necessary for resource mapping and geotechnical properties assessment during a lunar robotic precursor mission. A drill, combined with sample acquisition and analysis, could identify regolith composition for determining the presence and quantities of lunar resources for future ISRU. Regolith geotechnical properties may also be inferred from drill telemetry as well. This information is important for understanding excavability, load-bearing capacity and trafficability of lunar regolith for ISRU and lunar infrastructure development. Future missions could be augmented with human operation or utilize human-robot interaction for long traverses reducing unnecessary Extra-Vehicular Activity risks to human safety.
Once developed, a one-meter class drill could also be modified for research on Venus, comets, Europa and Near Earth Objects. Lessons learned from this effort may also be applied to shallow surface drilling and deep drilling missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Low cost, low mass drills could be used to quickly assess hazardous areas (oil spill sites around the refineries, toxic waste disposal sites, volcanoes, etc.) without endangering human life. In addition, the Department of Defense could deploy such rovers in conflict zones to assess the road trafficability potential prior to deployment of rescue teams as well as for identifying buried items such as mines. The petroleum and mining industries have also shown interest in robotic sampling.

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.

Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50