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Center Innovation Fund: ARC CIF

Smart Projectiles for Environmental Assessment, Reconnaissance and Sensing (SPEARS)

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Smart Projectiles for Environmental Assessment, Reconnaissance and Sensing (SPEARS)
Our mission archetype is exploration of hazardous, non-planar terrain, such as Martian caves or icy crevasses on Europa. Clusters of SPEARS sensors will be used to gather scientific measurements over a wide area. The major objective of this study is to demonstrate general feasibility of the concept and to make inroads in a few crucial technology bottlenecks. Experimentation with an early terrestrial prototype will demonstrate viability of core ideas and assist in evangelism. We will leverage existing test facilities, like our planetary roverscape, to provide great value relative to funding level. Lastly, analysis of SPEARS architecture in the context of possible future missions will ground this work for NASA relevance. A study in projectile payload selection will be performed, considering environmental and optical sensors. Strategies for anchoring, localization, and comms will be surveyed. Various thrust modalities (e.g. compressed gas vs. mechanical) for the launcher system will also be compared. Most critically, several automated multi-sensor data fusion techniques providing image stabilization, panoramic stitching, and 3D mapping (several of which this team has pioneered) will be evaluated and demonstrated. This will be accomplished by the construction of a basic terrestrial proof-of-concept system comprised of a CO2 projectile launcher and 2-3 example projectiles such as a camera, illuminator, and radio beacon. Existing algorithms and software will be built upon to demonstrate processing techniques, and extensions implemented to meet observed challenges will directly advance the state of the art. More »

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