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Center Innovation Fund: JSC CIF

GeoLab Sample Handling System

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This work builds upon the successes in developing and field testing GeoLab as part of the 2010 and 2011 Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) and Desert RATS activities.  The GeoLab prototype facility provides the capability to test new analytical instruments and operational protocols for extraterrestrial sample collection, handling, examination, prioritization, and return to Earth.  In 2010 using Center technology funds, GeoLab was designed, built, integrated into the HDU, and field tested.  The 2010 work led to a successful proposal to NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD).  The 2011 work, supported by Center technology funds and by the SMD proposal, evaluated enhanced operations, including the integration and operations of  new scientific instruments and new operator interfaces.  The 2012 work builds on this work to increase robotic operations in the glovebox and to begin implementing sample handling in a microgravity environment by integrating a robotic microgravity sample handling system for the GeoLab glovebox.  This work leverages a 2012 collaboration with the University of Bridgeport project (Zheng Li, 2012 X-Hab challenge winner), and extends the Bridgeport product for full glovebox operations.  It includes a translation track for increasing the DOF and whole-glovebox operations and software development for remote control of sample handling, facilitating remotely controlled analysis and leveraging astronaut resources.  The system will be tested as part of the summer 2012 Deep Space Habitat operations, and operational outcomes to be compared with earlier human-tended tests.

Develop  a robotic sample handling/ manipulator system for the GeoLab glovebox. This work leverages from earlier GeoLab work and a 2012 collaboration with a University of Bridgeport project (Zheng Li, 2012 X-Hab challenge winner) to build a microgravity sample holder for the glovebox.  The GeoLab team is providing inputs to the Bridgeport  design; this proposal extends the Bridgeport product for full glovebox operations. It includes a translation track for increasing the DOF and whole-glovebox operations and software development for remote control of sample  handling, facilitating remotely controlled analysis and leveraging astronaut resources. Tests performed during Desert RATS in 2011 and 2012 provided recommendations for increased robotic operations inside the GeoLab. Furthermore, the need for handling samples in a reduced gravity setting extends the operational concepts for  preliminary examination of  samples inside a space-based laboratory. We will develop and  integrate the GeoLab translation track in parallel with the U.  Bridgeport project, and feed requirements to the Bridgeport team to  ensure seamless integration.  We continue our collaborations with the DSH software development team to build controls for the  manipulator.  The system will be tested as part of the summer 2012 DSH operations, and operational outcomes to be compared with earlier human-tended tests.

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.

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