Author Topic: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.  (Read 46222 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #40 on: 05/23/2016 07:05 PM »
The people to ask, really, are those who planned and operated the Lunakhods back in the '70s.  These were the only rovers ever landed on an extra-terrestrial body that were operated in a low-latency, run-it-with-a-joystick mode.  From the simple measure of distance traveled divided by time, we can obviously see that the Lunakhods had a much greater capability of traveling longer distances over shorter timeframes -- one of them was able to cram 30-plus km of travel in just a few months.  Compare this to the several years it took for Oppie to travel the same distance.

Unfortunately, the people who designed the operations processes for the Lunakhods, and the people who actually operated them, are mostly long-dead (or at least long-retired); I'd have doubts about being able to pull out their lessons learned, or why they decided on such a low-latency paradigm vs. the plan-a-day's-worth-of-operations-and-let-'er-go paradigm we've used for our American Mars rovers.  It would be really interesting to see or hear any oral histories captured from those people.

Now, total travel distance over time is not necessarily the best metric for how to design tele-operations.  But it is one area where low-latency operations make a difference.  Again, though, it would be very interesting to see a rigorous study done to analyze both paradigms and see what might be gained by deploying tele-operators from Mars orbit and operating them in low-latency modes.

Even if they were still alive, they might not be that valuable in terms of experience. Andy Chaikin wrote an excellent article about the Lunokhods:

http://www.airspacemag.com/space/the-other-moon-landings-6457729/

Something he points out in that article is that "kilometers traveled" became the accomplishment most important to the Soviets. It was not "activities performed" or "science data gathered" or some other measurement. Like lots of things in spaceflight, people understand the accomplishment aspect much better than the knowledge gained (so, "first object in space" was considered a great achievement, even though the American spacecraft that followed gathered far more data on the space environment). So the Soviets loved bragging about how far they had driven, while not mentioning that they had taken relatively few scientific observations along the way.

And because that's just one parameter, it might not be very useful to understand Mars operations in the future. After all, today we can put that kind of task into the brain of a computer. It can navigate and cover terrain without outside intervention except in special cases (yeah, I know we don't have that at Mars yet, but it's on Earth now and it will get to Mars in a few decades).

There was an interesting documentary on the Lunokhods on one of the science channels a number of years ago. Part of it is here:



iMy colleague said that it was a good show in some ways, but also biased and incomplete.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #41 on: 05/23/2016 07:06 PM »
And again, I note that the value of low-latency telerobotics is usually asserted, but not actually studied or demonstrated. People say "of course you want to eliminate the time delay," without looking carefully at each operation (driving, moving an arm, operating a science payload, surveying terrain) and asking what is the difference between low-latency and high-latency for that operation.
Tele-robotics is not some unknown or very novel field of study. It's performing commercial, military, medical and research applications on earth at increasingly wider scale. In air, under water, underground, on field and on battlefield. The achievable capabilities are kind of well understood.
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Offline Oli

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #42 on: 05/23/2016 07:18 PM »

A manned mission to Mars orbit would be A LOT cheaper than one to the surface. That's the rationale for telerobotics. I suppose planetary protection would necessitate robotics anyway for the exploration of interesting science sites.

Mission to Mars Using Telerobotic Surface Exploration from Orbit:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20130011281&hterms=herro&qs=N%3D0%26Ntk%3DAll%26Ntt%3Dherro%26Ntx%3Dmode%2520matchall

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #43 on: 05/23/2016 07:34 PM »
Yep.  And JPL seemed to say "Thanks for your information, but it was Not Invented Here, so we won't be using any of it."

And it wasn't so much the Lunokhod/Marsokhod designers, it was the designer, singular.  A guy named Alexander Kemurdzhian.  Yes, he had a design team in the USSR back in the '60s, but I'm pretty certain he was the only person invited to "compare approaches on the design of planetary rovers" with designers at JPL

IIRC, he brought a small test rover he had been playing with and demonstrated it for the JPL people, but again, this one didn't have any design heritage that was built into later JPL-designed rovers.  And from what I've seen of JPL people describing this encounter, they seemed more interested in the design aspect of the Soviet hardware -- not so much the operational paradigm, which is what I was suggesting we check into and see if there's any documentation about.

I think Kemurdzhian's biggest claim to fame, outside of Lunokhod, was the fact that he was able to put together, on extremely short notice, remote-operated rovers used to survey the damage on the roof of the reactor building at Chernobyl after the explosion and fire there.

Unfortunately, Kemurdzhian has been gone for more than a decade, and I'm pretty certain most of the people who operated the Lunokhods are no longer with us, either -- it's been coming up on half a century since they were active, after all.  So, that one encounter JPL had with Kemurdzhian was pretty much it, in terms of checking with those who operated the only real-time rovers ever operated off-Earth.

I'd love to see oral histories captured at that time that give details on rover operations discussions JPL may have had with Kemurdzhian, but I've never seen such come to light -- and, just to point out the obvious, the people at JPL who talked with Kemurdzhian back in the '90s are likely now, too, getting long in the tooth, are gone, or are retired.  Think about the scene in "The Martian" where they had to gather up surviving members of the Pathfinder team, and recall thinking to yourself "I bet there wouldn't be that many survivors of that team by the 2030s..."   ;)

Thats quite a limited view of the history. No, it wasnt A. Kemurdzhian alone. No, it wasnt a demonstration to 'JPL people' - Marsokhod based field campaigns were mainly run by NASA Ames and McDonnell Douglas, with instigation by Planetary Society, and continued well into 1999.
And, the field tests of Marsokhod and multiple other rover designs from different NASA field centers ended up contributing mostly exactly to operational side of missions like Pathfinder and MERs. There were simulated field tests with long time delays as well.
Reports are available on NTRS and referenced in other publications - for instance, Marsokhod fields tests are referenced in landing site workshops for Pathfinder.
The hardware itself was subject to multiple iterations of mission proposals like Mars Together, which all died for multiple reasons.

Thanks for the clarification.  I was mostly going off what I've read about Kemurdzhian, and fairly extensive a biography I saw on TV of the man, which focused both on the Lunokhod achievements and the Chernobyl rovers.  It had a section in which, during one of the last interviews the man gave, he expressed frustration that no one here in America seemed to take much interest in his work.  That interview mentioned the NIH attitude that was frustrating him a lot, and the lack of any follow-up after his demonstrations.  (It featured some nice footage of him demonstrating the hardware he brought for the NASA people to look at, though.)

It's always good to get additional points of view on any subject.  Thanks for this one!
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline savuporo

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #44 on: 05/23/2016 07:49 PM »
Thanks for the clarification.  I was mostly going off what I've read about Kemurdzhian, and fairly extensive a biography I saw on TV of the man, which focused both on the Lunokhod achievements and the Chernobyl rovers.  It had a section in which, during one of the last interviews the man gave, he expressed frustration that no one here in America seemed to take much interest in his work.  That interview mentioned the NIH attitude that was frustrating him a lot, and the lack of any follow-up after his demonstrations.  (It featured some nice footage of him demonstrating the hardware he brought for the NASA people to look at, though.)

It's always good to get additional points of view on any subject.  Thanks for this one!

If you are interested, a grab bag of links:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1788/1
http://articles.latimes.com/1992-05-25/news/mn-231_1_robotic-rover
http://vislab-ccom.unh.edu/~schwehr/papers/SIMM93/A.1-RoverTechnology.html
http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/1995/95_02_10.html
http://www.robots.org/NASA_AmesTechSpacePavilionK-9.htm

To a search for 'Marsokhod' in NTRS and sort by dates

http://www.amazon.com/Robotic-Exploration-Solar-System-1983-1996/dp/0387789049

EDIT: two more
http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1991/Soviet-U-S-Scientists-Tested-Mars-Rover-in-Kamchatka-Despite-Coup/id-a8026599a10564350976bac58e55707c
http://www.planetary.org/explore/the-planetary-report/tpr-1992-6.html
« Last Edit: 05/23/2016 08:01 PM by savuporo »
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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #45 on: 05/23/2016 07:53 PM »
Unfortunately, the people who designed the operations processes for the Lunakhods, and the people who actually operated them, are mostly long-dead (or at least long-retired); I'd have doubts about being able to pull out their lessons learned, or why they decided on such a low-latency paradigm vs. the plan-a-day's-worth-of-operations-and-let-'er-go paradigm we've used for our American Mars rovers.  It would be really interesting to see or hear any oral histories captured from those people.
My guess on the low latency paradigm being selected would be because direct control requires less compute power (except for wetware).
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Offline virnin

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #46 on: 05/23/2016 07:57 PM »
And again, I note that the value of low-latency telerobotics is usually asserted, but not actually studied or demonstrated. People say "of course you want to eliminate the time delay," without looking carefully at each operation (driving, moving an arm, operating a science payload, surveying terrain) and asking what is the difference between low-latency and high-latency for that operation.
Tele-robotics is not some unknown or very novel field of study. It's performing commercial, military, medical and research applications on earth at increasingly wider scale. In air, under water, underground, on field and on battlefield. The achievable capabilities are kind of well understood.

IMHO, latency is only half the issue.  The other is bandwidth.  The current rovers spend a lot of time sitting, charging their batteries and transmitting data to Earth (direct and/or via relay) between action plans.  Sending that data to orbiting operators should be at least an order of magnitude faster, assuming the orbital asset has significantly more buffer space than existing spacecraft like MRO.  The local geologist gets to see the data right away and inform the programming team regarding next targets, etc.  I would guess 2-3X more science data gathered per sol with little change to existing rover operations.

Offline gosnold

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #47 on: 05/23/2016 08:37 PM »
And again, I note that the value of low-latency telerobotics is usually asserted, but not actually studied or demonstrated. People say "of course you want to eliminate the time delay," without looking carefully at each operation (driving, moving an arm, operating a science payload, surveying terrain) and asking what is the difference between low-latency and high-latency for that operation.
Tele-robotics is not some unknown or very novel field of study. It's performing commercial, military, medical and research applications on earth at increasingly wider scale. In air, under water, underground, on field and on battlefield. The achievable capabilities are kind of well understood.

IMHO, latency is only half the issue.  The other is bandwidth.  The current rovers spend a lot of time sitting, charging their batteries and transmitting data to Earth (direct and/or via relay) between action plans.  Sending that data to orbiting operators should be at least an order of magnitude faster, assuming the orbital asset has significantly more buffer space than existing spacecraft like MRO.  The local geologist gets to see the data right away and inform the programming team regarding next targets, etc.  I would guess 2-3X more science data gathered per sol with little change to existing rover operations.

I think if you are bandwidth-limited, you're better off investing in unmanned communication satellites around Mars, with optical links to Earth for instance.



On the subject of low-latency operations, there was a FISO conference on the topic last year:
http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/telecon/Lester_5-27-15/

Blackstar is right, the benefits are not well understood:

Quote
For field geology, we have NO experience with low latency telerobotics.
Lessons from high latency telerobotics (MER, MSL) donʼt necessarily transfer well to low latency telerobotics.
Analog studies on the Earth will be essential to this understanding.

(from slide 11)

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #48 on: 05/23/2016 08:43 PM »
If a teleoperated rover were to transmit real-time video to orbit, whilst driving vastly greater distances each day than current rovers, how would it be powered? The MERs got enough solar power each day to stay alive and drive a couple of hundred metres. Hard to see anybody fitting a vastly greater area of PVA on a rover. And RTGs aren't exactly low cost.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #49 on: 05/23/2016 08:59 PM »
Quote
For field geology, we have NO experience with low latency telerobotics.
(from slide 11)
And yet, petrochemical, mining and construction industry do have telerobotics experience, and they employ plenty of geologists.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #50 on: 05/23/2016 09:08 PM »
If a teleoperated rover were to transmit real-time video to orbit, whilst driving vastly greater distances each day than current rovers, how would it be powered? The MERs got enough solar power each day to stay alive and drive a couple of hundred metres. Hard to see anybody fitting a vastly greater area of PVA on a rover. And RTGs aren't exactly low cost.

RTG are also low power. I see a stationary solar array, maybe with battery storage. A rover can do 50km with one battery charge and then returns to the stationary array. Maybe the rover carries a small array so it can limp back when the battery runs low. Ideally the rover can transfer the stationary array. The rover may go slow in unknown territory, but can retrace a known trajectory unaided at much higher speed.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #51 on: 05/23/2016 09:53 PM »
The current rovers spend a lot of time sitting, charging their batteries and transmitting data to Earth (direct and/or via relay) between action plans.

And any rover you send to Mars is still going to spend a lot of time sitting and charging batteries, or sitting in darkness.

So again the question is what is the specific value of having the human right nearby? If the rover is in darkness 50% of its day, then that's 50% of the time you're not using it. If it has to charge its batteries for 25% of the daylight (WAG) then that's now 75% of the day that the nearby human will not be commanding it. Figuring out the value of having a human control it with a low time lag, vs. a team of humans controlling it back on Earth, is important to answering the question if this is a worthwhile thing to do.

Offline redliox

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #52 on: 05/23/2016 10:12 PM »
And any rover you send to Mars is still going to spend a lot of time sitting and charging batteries, or sitting in darkness.

So again the question is what is the specific value of having the human right nearby? If the rover is in darkness 50% of its day, then that's 50% of the time you're not using it. If it has to charge its batteries for 25% of the daylight (WAG) then that's now 75% of the day that the nearby human will not be commanding it. Figuring out the value of having a human control it with a low time lag, vs. a team of humans controlling it back on Earth, is important to answering the question if this is a worthwhile thing to do.

That value in turn would depend on or dictate the orbit the crew occupy as well...presuming the Mars rover operations were indeed a driver for the mission.  If that were the case, I'd assume exploring not to mention assembling the future surface base would be the rover mission...or more bluntly the only matter worth wasting the crew's time.

I have no idea how hot the idea of a crewed mission to synchronous Mars orbit is considered, although I would hope it's on the list.
« Last Edit: 05/23/2016 10:13 PM by redliox »
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #53 on: 05/24/2016 01:34 AM »
Figuring out the value of having a human control it with a low time lag, vs. a team of humans controlling it back on Earth, is important to answering the question if this is a worthwhile thing to do.

Its not that hard to figure out, should anyone actually be interested. NIST has developed standard testing protocols for telerobotics, due to interest from law enforcement, disaster response and of course military.

http://www.nist.gov/el/isd/ms/robottestmethods.cfm

There are dozens of terrestrial COTS telerobotics models with various sizes and capabilities that have been evaluated, and NIST keeps adding new abilities to the test suites. Nothing would prevent planetary geologists to visit a few of facilities, test the existing capabilities and identify the ones they are specifically interested in from testing profiles.






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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #54 on: 05/24/2016 03:24 AM »
Its not that hard to figure out, should anyone actually be interested.

So you claim. If it's so easy, how come nobody has done it? And we're talking about rovers that will cost $100s of millions of dollars and are not analogous to robots used on Earth. For instance, no need to disarm bombs on Mars.

I'd add that the human operator on a Mars mission is a major part of the systems analysis: when the operator is doing teleoperation, they're not doing something else like exercising, sleeping, repairing equipment, or operating other experiments. So the calculation is not simply the value of the robot's operations vs. long-latency operations, but what other things could that human be doing instead. Lots of things may impact that (like the reliability of equipment on the mission: if it breaks down a lot, the human is going to be required to fix it).




Offline savuporo

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #55 on: 05/24/2016 03:46 AM »
Its not that hard to figure out, should anyone actually be interested.

So you claim. If it's so easy, how come nobody has done it?

You missed the point. It is being done every day by industries and and people that actively utilize low-latency and also semiautonomous telerobotics all the time. NIST has even grading standards for levels of autonomy involved

Quote
And we're talking about rovers that will cost $100s of millions of dollars and are not analogous to robots used on Earth. For instance, no need to disarm bombs on Mars.

Again missing the point. The tests are not being done for disarming bombs, puncturing tires or breaking car windows. The tests are being done for generic telerobotic capabilities, like level of dexterity, durability, traversability, lifting weights and negotiating obstacles, sampling and handling etc etc. I recommend even a brief reading of what NIST, National Tactical Officers Association and others are actually are doing in this area.
The capabilities are generic, and useful in multiple applications, which is why the same platforms are finding uses in multiple areas like industrial inspection and hazardous materials handling, mining, disaster recovery etc.

Just because planetary geologists haven't done a specific evaluation of what low latency vs high latency ops for a particular mission profile might mean, does not mean that there is no thorough understanding of existing low-latency telerobotic capabilities and more autonomous systems.

And, NASA itself and ESA have been running various teleoperation programs and field tests for about two decades now, including simulated time lag vs direct operated systems even going as far back as the Marsokhod mentioned above, if Mars geologists do not know what the comparative capabilities are then maybe thats easy to fix with a lecture.
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Online Dalhousie

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #56 on: 05/24/2016 05:02 AM »
Thats quite a limited view of the history. No, it wasnt A. Kemurdzhian alone. No, it wasnt a demonstration to 'JPL people' - Marsokhod based field campaigns were mainly run by NASA Ames and McDonnell Douglas, with instigation by Planetary Society, and continued well into 1999.
And, the field tests of Marsokhod and multiple other rover designs from different NASA field centers ended up contributing mostly exactly to operational side of missions like Pathfinder and MERs. There were simulated field tests with long time delays as well.
Reports are available on NTRS and referenced in other publications - for instance, Marsokhod fields tests are referenced in landing site workshops for Pathfinder.
The hardware itself was subject to multiple iterations of mission proposals like Mars Together, which all died for multiple reasons.

Here is a Marsokhod in an Ames warehouse in 2011
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #57 on: 05/24/2016 06:14 PM »
And, NASA itself and ESA have been running various teleoperation programs and field tests for about two decades now, including simulated time lag vs direct operated systems even going as far back as the Marsokhod mentioned above, if Mars geologists do not know what the comparative capabilities are then maybe thats easy to fix with a lecture.

But it's the value of doing this as part of a larger system, including the costs. As just one example of a difference, crew availability is a finite resource on a Mars mission. If you only have four astronauts, then using just one of them to operate a rover is a major use of the available labor pool. That's not the case in any other terrestrial operation. Add an ROV to an oil rig and you might add a couple of operators, but that's not going to strain the available resources of the oil rig.

You're saying that based upon terrestrial examples this is easy and obvious, and I'm saying that from a human spaceflight standpoint and a planetary robotics standpoint none of that has been proven, nor is it obvious.

Offline redliox

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #58 on: 05/24/2016 06:33 PM »
I understand answering the telerobotics thing is important, but I'd rather answer the question of what orbit Lockheed's idea would best occupy.  One reason I emphasis this is that low Mars orbit seems the default target for the Mars Ascent Vehicle; problem is something far higher like Phobos or synchronous seems the default parking spot for an Earth Return Vehicle; IMO I would think synchronous or even higher would be better to minimize the ERVs departure fuel and maximize the benefit of surface ISRU.

Any answers or educated guesses for this as opposed to more telerobotics mumbling?
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Lockheed Martin Orbiting Mars Laboratory discussion thread.
« Reply #59 on: 05/24/2016 06:51 PM »
But it's the value of doing this as part of a larger system, including the costs...

You're saying that based upon terrestrial examples this is easy and obvious, and I'm saying that from a human spaceflight standpoint and a planetary robotics standpoint none of that has been proven, nor is it obvious.

I agree on that - it absolutely is the value in larger system, human element and human machine interface being actually the real focus of most of the tele-robotics work in terrestrial apps. The operator focus, responsibilities, workload , scalability, gradual system autonomy levels etc are very much at the forefront of all this.

However, let me quote you again:
And again, I note that the value of low-latency telerobotics is usually asserted, but not actually studied or demonstrated. People say "of course you want to eliminate the time delay," without looking carefully at each operation (driving, moving an arm, operating a science payload, surveying terrain) and asking what is the difference between low-latency and high-latency for that operation.

If these are the operations Mars scientists are interested in, then it is easily testable and obvious - because these are generic system capabilities with very close terrestrial analogues in widespread applications, with plenty of operational experience and deployments in various environments.
Of course the hardware going to space needs to be engineered very differently, but the operational concepts and techniques can be very similar.
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