Aerial Vehicles for the Inspection of a Martian Surface Settlement and Weather Forecast

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Aerial Vehicles for the Inspection of a Martian Surface Settlement and Weather Forecast: Testing and Considerations for Use

Paolo Guardabasso ISAE-SUPAERO University of Toulouse, France

Vittorio Netti SICSA University of Houston, USA

70th International Astronautical Congress | 21-25 October 2019 | IAC-19,B6,3,7,x48933

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles | Earth Vs. Mars Earth







Surface Analysis

Human Transport


Weather forecast




Sample collection







Analog stations Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station (D-MARS) Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS)

● ● ● ● ● ●

Mars Desert Research Station 1. 2. 3.

Established in 2001 by the Mars Society Six buildings station Advantages a. b. c. d. e.

Remote location Mars geological analog Infrastructure to simulate confinement Support for engineering activities EVA equipments (suits, vehicles, EVA Room)

MDRS | LATAM III Mission Main Objectives: ● ● ●

Test a multicopter drone in a simulated Mars mission Inspect the station’s assets and observe the surroundings Draw a list of lessons learnt for next missions

Vehicles: ● ●

Quadcopter equipped with a 2-axis gimballed camera VTOL fixed wing equipped with fixed photogrammetry camera

Simulation conditions: ● ● ●

Mars geological analog EVA in spacesuit simulator Isolation and confinement

Scenario 1 | outpost inspection Interest: Evaluate the potential role of a drone in the inspection activities of the MDRS station. Assess the status of the station’s systems. Record a video of the flight, in order to provide a set of images to train Artificial Intelligence algorithms for the automatic recognition of assets.


ConOps: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Deploy drone Take off Fly around the station while filming Stop at particular points of interest (solar panels, …) Fly back to starting point Land Retrieve drone inside the station

2|5 4



Scenario 2 | weather forecast

ConOps: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Interest: Evaluate the use of a drone for the role of an observer, to be able to predict the vicinity of dust storms and other weather formations. Provide a set of images for the training of AI for automatic recognition and alert. 4




Deploy drone Take o Fly vertically, beyond major the geological obstacles Hover in flight to take a 360 view of the station Land Retrieve drone inside the station

Scenario 3 | search and recovery Interest: Evaluate the use of a drone for the search of a missing person or unmanned vehicle. In case of emergency (lost contact with EVA crew), the drone is sent to scan the area and pinpoint the target, to direct rescue missions.

ConOps: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Deploy drone Take o Fly towards assigned area Scan the area, while operator moves the camera When the target is found or time is over, fly back to starting point Land Retrieve drone inside the station

3|5 4



Results | test campaign

Results | advantages and considerations Advantages ● ●

Mission time of 7 minutes, compared to a walking EVA of 40 minutes High altitude allowed to spot damage on solar panels

Considerations ● ● ● ● ●

Drone Malfunction → new design requirements on dust protection Difficult operations while wearing gloves Reduced visibility of sky with helmet → muscular pain (8kg backpack) Radio communications → better equipment to avoid stress High wind and temperature imposed short and stressing EVA

Results | new features and uses Features to be developed ● ● ● ● ●

Navigation without GPS Flight control station Autonomy for BLOS flight Detecting of geological entities Real time object tracking

Other uses for drones ● ● ●

Tethered ground cable-powered flight Surface observation and mapping Multispectral surface analysis

Future work Next missions will provide more data for the development of Martian and Terrestrial drones operations. The DOME group has been pre-selected for the AMADEE-20 Mission, led by the Austrian Space Forum, hosted by the Israel Space Agency and supported by D-MARS.

Project AEROSCAN | mission objectives ●

Testing X5-b in two different scenarios: autonomous and teleoperated (Primary)

Automatic soil photogrammetry mission (Primary)

Automatic mission capabilities for long endurance habitat inspection (Primary)

RC assisted piloting from astronauts (Secondary)

Search&Rescue of an EVA crew (Secondary)