Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carnegie Mellon Rovers Let Museum Visitors Explore Mars As NASA Rovers Land

Date:
December 23, 2003
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
As NASA's twin robot geologists Spirit and Opportunity prepare to land on Mars in January, a cadre of 20 smart robots developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University with support from NASA and Intel Corp. will be deployed at some of the nation's most prestigious science museums to let visitors experience the thrill of exploring the red planet.

PITTSBURGH -- As NASA's twin robot geologists Spirit and Opportunity prepare to land on Mars in January, a cadre of 20 smart robots developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University with support from NASA and Intel Corp. will be deployed at some of the nation's most prestigious science museums to let visitors experience the thrill of exploring the red planet.

The Personal Exploration Rovers (PERs) will reside in "Mars Yards," specially designed to mimic Martian terrain at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; its new Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport; the National Science Center in Augusta, Ga.; The San Francisco Exploratorium; and the new visitor's center at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

The first exhibit will open at NASA Ames in late December. The others will follow between January 1 and January 24, 2004.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) are part of a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The current mission is to search for clues to past water activity on Mars. The spacecraft landing in January are targeted to appropriate sites on opposite sides of the planet. The rovers they carry will drive to promising locations to perform on-site geological investigations over the course of their 90-day mission.

While the Mars Exploration Robots (MER) will be looking for water history, museum visitors interacting with the PERs will be able to search the Mars Yards" rocky landscapes for organo-fluorescent evidence of life.

"Our goal is to excite and inspire kids about science and technology and educate people about the role of rovers and rover autonomy in doing space science," said project director Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. "We want people to understand why it's important for the rovers to be smart."

"With the Personal Exploration Rover, students can learn how robots interact with the world and see for themselves how the future might look as we have more and more robots helping us in our everyday life," said G. Scott Hubbard, director of NASA Ames Research Center.

While each museum's exhibit is unique, they all contain one or more Mars Yards populated by rovers. The identical rovers are 1.2 feet-tall, weigh 10 pounds and can move 1.6 inches per second. They have mobility systems similar to that of Spirit and Opportunity.

"The Personal Exploration Rover is part of a larger project to develop low-cost robotic devices that can be used in education, science museums and the home," said Daniel Clancy, director of information sciences and technology at NASA Ames. "In future holiday seasons, you will be able to bring one of these home for your kids. The robot will be able to move around your house, take pictures, interact with your dog and do other tasks. It's really about the whole creative process and exploring how you can program a device to do interesting tasks," he said.

As part of robotics research activities by Intel Research, the PERs are powered by Intel® XScale® technology using Intel® PXA255 processors, which provide high system performance and low power consumption. The rovers run the Linux operating system and are programmed in Java.

Visiting "mission scientists" will access the PERs through a kiosk, and then partner with a rover as it moves through the yard, scanning rocks and soil to find signs of life. The rovers are equipped with cameras mounted on a custom-designed head that can create a panoramic, 360-degree image. It also can detect obstacles using an optical rangefinder. Once a panorama is downloaded from a PER, "scientists" can choose a rock to test. They estimate rover heading and distance to reach the rock. The rover then autonomously traverses the Yard following the "scientist's" directions safely while continually checking for unexpected obstacles. After reaching the goal location, the PER scans the area and autonomously locates, then approaches the target rock. The PER then illuminates the rock with ultraviolet light to look for signs of organo-fluorescence to provide scientific data.

This scenario is based on another NASA-Carnegie Mellon research project, which involves developing a robot capable of seeking life in Chile's Atacama Desert, the driest spot on Earth, which was chosen as an analog to Mars.

The PER project is funded as part of a four-year, $150,000 annual education grant from NASA to develop educational robots. It is supported through the NASA Ames Intelligent Systems Program and Intel. Carnegie Mellon and Ames researchers have designed educational materials and ongoing support for the six-month-long exhibits that feature the rovers. Nourbakhsh has written papers on the educational value of robots. "The gender gap closes when you use robots," he said.

###For more information on Carnegie Mellon's personal rover project, see http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~personalrover/. for more information on Carnegie Mellon's PER section, go to http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~personalrover/PER/index.html.For more information on NASA's Mars Exploration project, see http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer.

NASA Television will broadcast a video file, including animation, interviews and b-roll footage of the PER Monday, Dec. 22 at 9 a.m., noon, 3 and 6 p.m. PST. NASA-TV is available on AMC 9 Transponder 9C, 85 degrees West Longitude, vertical polarization downlink frequency 3880 MHZ, with audio at 6.8 MHZ. The NASA TV broadcast schedule is available at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon Rovers Let Museum Visitors Explore Mars As NASA Rovers Land." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031223062302.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2003, December 23). Carnegie Mellon Rovers Let Museum Visitors Explore Mars As NASA Rovers Land. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031223062302.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon Rovers Let Museum Visitors Explore Mars As NASA Rovers Land." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031223062302.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) — The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) — NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins