Campus and Community

Técnico researchers participate in simulated Mars mission

Researchers from the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR) will help develop robotic devices used in the simulation.

A group of researchers from the Institute for Systems and Robotics (ISR) will participate in the international mission AMADEE-20 that will simulate harsh environmental conditions of the Martian surface. The mission will take place from 15th October to 15th November 2020 and the ISR researchers will help develop robotic devices used in the simulation.

Sixteen experiments, proposed by nine countries, were chosen to be part of AMADEE-20 mission. MEROP results from a partnership between Técnico and Gratz Technical University (Austria) and was one of the experiments chosen. Rodrigo Ventura, José Corujeira, Rute Luz and Jose Luís Silva from the Interactive Technologies Institute / LARSyS are the researchers who will participate in this experiment, whose work promises a more efficient remote operation of the robots used to explore the Martian soil.

The MEROP experiment aims to evaluate teleoperation solutions to command a rover in the Martian soil. “It is up to ISR researchers to develop the operating console that aims to improve the effectiveness of a robot’s teleoperation when the operator does not have line of sight to the robot”, explains professor Rodrigo Ventura, coordinator of the research group. This multi modal interface that will be created by ISR researchers can even reduce the conventional use of two operators by optimizing astronauts’ time and tasks on future missions to Mars.

The ISR team will test the technology at a base in the Negev desert, where this simulated mission will take place. “The tests we are going to carry out will focus on two scenarios: to examine the exterior of the base, for example after a storm; and to explore a location before the astronauts are sent to assess the safety conditions of the route”, says professor Rodrigo Ventura. In both situations “the use of robotic technology will allow to reduce the exposure of astronauts to the base’s external environment”, points out professor Rodrigo Ventura.

In all, 16 experiments will be carried out on the simulated mission to Mars AMADEE-20, in charge of nine countries, which include, in addition to technology, areas such as medicine, biology and geology. AMADEE-20 involves the Austrian Space Forum, an institution that has conducted simulations of expeditions to Mars and selected the experiences, the Israeli space agency and the company D-Mars, also from Israel.