NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-2 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
(646) 459-7802

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kris Zacny
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(510) 207-4555

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Robotic planetary exploration missions will need to perform in-situ analysis of rock and/or regolith samples or returning samples back to earth. Obtaining and delivering a sample can be a complex engineering problem, especially if it's done autonomously thousands of miles away. To accommodate future missions, these subsurface access and sample handling technologies must be developed to meet a broad range of potential requirements, including a variety of rock or subsurface materials, rigorous sample preservation requirements, and the general problem of autonomous operation in the presence of dust and with limited resources. The one-to-three meter range has been identified as a critical regime for planetary exploration and while there has been some technology development in this regime, there is currently no proven flight-like approach to robotically achieving this depth through layers of challenging material from realistic roving or landed platforms.
The Phase 1 research has resulted in proving the benefits of rotary-percussive drilling system as it pertains to breaking of formation and cuttings transport.
The primary objective of the proposed effort is to develop, via testing in a simulated Mars environment, a breadboard one-meter sampling drilling system for acquiring a small volume of drilled cuttings and a core (if necessary) from a target depth on Mars. This project would build on the existing knowledge base of Mars drilling, and its particular strength lies with its capability of performing drilling tests under simulated Martian conditions of temperature and pressure and CO2 atmosphere.

This is a component technology effort that includes the development of a rotary percussive drill head and a sampling lead drill string. Honeybee Robotics will leverage drill head development by utilizing voice coil percussive actuator technology developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the Mars Science Laboratory Powder Drill.

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 - key to 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, Mars Scout, and Mars Sample Return.
A subsurface access tool (robotic or astronaut-assisted) for the Moon be of scientific interest and also necessary for ground truth for resource mapping (including the presence, form, and concentration of potential polar cap water ice, potential in the 1-3 meter depth range) and regolith geotechnical properties assessment. A drill with sample acquisition and analysis, could identify regolith composition for the purposes of determining the presence and quantities of lunar resources for future in situ resource utilization. In addition, regolith geotechnical properties may also be roughly inferred from drill telemetry. This information is important for understanding excavability, load-bearing capacity and trafficability of lunar regolith for ISRU and lunar infrastructure development in preparation for lunar human bases.
A 1m class drill could also be modified for Venus, comets, Europa and Near Earth Objects. In addition the lessons learned from this effort may be extrapolated to shallow surface drilling as well as 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. Honeybee Robotics is currently leveraging our experience in this area by working with a major mining concern on developing the "Mine of the Future". There is also a great need for this type of drill for Arctic sampling and extreme biology studies to acquire uncontaminated samples.

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 Generated on 10-23-08 13:36