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Center Independent Research & Development: JPL IRAD

Exploring and Sampling Recurring Slope Lineae and Other Extreme Terrains (RSL)

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

This project investigates technologies for accessing and sampling extreme terrains on planetary surfaces. A driving application is potential in situ measurements on Recurring Slope Lineae on Mars to inform current hypotheses on the nature and source of this slope discoloration phenomena. This initiative develops and demonstrates mobility to and access of the interior of crater walls reaching 40-50 degrees and in situ measurements below the surface. The research primarily focuses on two technologies: (1) rappelling mobility across hundreds of meters of sloped traverses and (2) above-surface mobility (rotorcraft or rocket) for delivering payloads on sloped terrain. 

This research project will define science traceability matrix for both dry- and wet-flow hypotheses for RSL on Mars, define the science concept of operations, and define a representative payload to constrain access options.  The project will develop and demonstrate two access technologies.  The first will focus on rappelling tethered mobility for in situ investigation on both RSL and nearby regions across a diurnal cycle and will include below-surface access to a depth of 3–15 cm for embedding a dielectric probe.  The second will focus on above-surface access using a helicopter or a rocket that will deliver a 4+ kg payload on RSL slopes.  Component technologies include extreme-terrain robotic mobility, deployment of payloads on slopes, autonomy, below-surface access and in situ measurements on slopes.  This work will culiminate in a field test at a terrestrial analogue site.

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