Aerial prospecting enables future missions to rapidly explore and quantify localized resources such as peaks of persistent light, planetary caves, and volatile-rich regions. This program delivers guidance and algorithms for precision safe landing and maneuvering. The immediate markets within NASA are for exploration and science missions to surface destinations on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. Phase II development occurs in the context of a mission to the Moon and Mars. The technologies are enabling for future missions that prospect by rover, but the principles apply to precise touchdown and is applicable to near term missions such as Mars 2020, RP, and Asteroid Redirect. The proposed innovations in guidance improve mission capability by enhancing landing precision, enabling access to previously inaccessible terrain, providing accurate autonomous target-relative navigation, modeling a target on board a spacecraft; and providing a light weight, power efficient solution to TRN. This capability enables robotic exploration of areas with the highest scientic value and future human exploration. The RP, currently in Phase A with a target launch in 2019, has a $250M budget reserved. Science return is dependent on landing in an identied region with high volatile content and near regions of permanent dark. Polar terrain on the Moon is hazardous and lighting varies locally, so precise landing relative to terrain is critical.
The techniques developed under this contract for autonmous survey, detection, and mapping have significant opportunity in the commercial sector. Markets are as varied as First Responder (emergency response data gathering) to Survey Equipment. There are other emerging markets that are not mature enough to demand trending attention such as tower inspections (electric transmission lines, wind turbines, cell phone towers), in-construction building progress inspections, indoor arena ceiling/roof structure/lighting inspections), train and auto tunnel inspections and any need for data, visual and otherwise, from locations difficult, dangerous or impossible to access via foot traffic or vehicles. The technology will be broadly applicable to resource prospecting in cold traps, dark craters, cryovolcanoes, asteroids, comets, and other planets. The technology is also applicable to Earth-relevant problems such as the detection of poisonous and explosive gases and flammable dust in mines; surveying urban canyons; and exploring bunkers and caves.Law Enforcement, First Responder, Search and Rescue will benet from this technologyon robots that are being used to keep personnel out of harm's way. Examples are investigating damaged buildings where volatile liquid or other dangerous substances may be present, search and rescue where autonomous navigation with characterization would potentially allow lost person recognition from a ground or airborne unmanned vehicle