Author Topic: Martian ice excavation and processing: autonomous v manual  (Read 15398 times)

Offline aip

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How true to Mars could a rig tested on Earth be?

Could we use one of the large low pressure test chambers to create a Martin CO2 extractor test?  The only difference would be gravity?  Co2 is really cheap.  You could even simulate dust storms, I expect?

As far as water goes, you would think you could test any number of arrangements, with dirty, salty, dusty, etc. water here on Earth?  Again, the main difference being low gravity?  Could test the rig in Northern Canada, perhaps, or Alaska, a bit less remote than Antarctica?  And of course test both remote and hands on.  I don't see all that much gain in going to the moon to test.
You could to extraction tests in normal atmosphere, and again low pressure processing tests in the vacuum chamber?

Would that be enough to help decide on the best approach?
The largest vacuum chamber in the world is in Ohio at the Glenn Research Center, and it's "only" 37m x 30m -- not big enough for a StarShip. 2.4m thick concrete walls. And of course, it would be an enormous effort to ship a StarShip to Ohio.

I speculated a while back that the current location of SN15 and SN16 could be used as a Mars ISRU testing site. Build a 60m x 30m open-top concrete cylinder, lift and place the entire self-contained ISRU Starship into it, then bolt down a removable cap on the top. Draw a vacuum and replace with CO2. Conveniently, there's an air separation facility 100 meters away that could provide a continuous stream of Mars-like atmosphere, at whatever temperature desired to simulate day/night cycles.

Bringing this back on topic, this enclosure would be a perfect place to practice deploying and operating mining robots/equipment to recover water from all kinds of dirty ice. It would also be good for long-term testing of the Starship airlocks, cargo bays, and ECLSS in a full-scale, test-as-you-fly environment. Astronaut training too.

Offline Slarty1080

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Thinking about this question, it really boils down to how many iterative automated bites of the cherry you need to take before sufficient risk has been retired to allow humans to land.

We have had a few tentative steps already, but will need a lot more. Maybe two synods worth would be enough to clench it? That should be enough to prove what the ground conditions are, plus prove that the ice recovery system(s) and all ancillary kit work well enough. At least well enough to be a manageable risk for humans.

That said NASA and SpaceX views on what counts as a manageable risk for a crew might differ, so it might need to be interesting.
My optimistic hope is that it will become cool to really think about things... rather than just doing reactive bullsh*t based on no knowledge (Brian Cox)

Offline DreamyPickle

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The answer is clearly "tesla bots".

Now that Tesla has declared it is working on autonomous systems other than cars it seems pretty clear than "ice excavation and processing" can be one of the applications and not even one which is particularly difficult. It's easier than self-driving with human standards of driving.

Humanoid shapes are not required.

Offline Slarty1080

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The answer is clearly "tesla bots".

Now that Tesla has declared it is working on autonomous systems other than cars it seems pretty clear than "ice excavation and processing" can be one of the applications and not even one which is particularly difficult. It's easier than self-driving with human standards of driving.

Humanoid shapes are not required.
I hope you are right if anyone can do it Musk can, but it won't be easy. A high degree of autonomy will be needed as well as adaptability to changing plans and ruggedness to the environment and recovery from power outage, very low temperature, physical damage etc.
My optimistic hope is that it will become cool to really think about things... rather than just doing reactive bullsh*t based on no knowledge (Brian Cox)

Offline joek

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I hope you are right if anyone can do it Musk can, but it won't be easy. A high degree of autonomy will be needed as well as adaptability to changing plans and ruggedness to the environment and recovery from power outage, very low temperature, physical damage etc.

Step 1: Get the basic physical construct with requisite sensors-controls in place which can survive Martian environment. Step 2: improve-augment intelligence-autonomy. (1) May require a few iterations across synods (years). (2) Can occur at a much faster rate with updates at the speed of light.

Online LMT

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"Deimos is hydrated."

Quote from: Takir et al. 2021
- Near-infrared spectra of Phobos and Deimos were measured with SpeX at NASA IRTF.

- Phobos and Deimos showed slope variability and Deimos is hydrated.

Quote from: Takir et al. 2021
The measured LXD spectra of Deimos revealed evidence of hydration with 3-μm band depths at 2.90 μm of 45%. The 3-μm band in Deimos could be attributed to exogenic sources such as solar wind implantation or OH-bearing impactors, or to an endogenic source and the presence of carbonaceous material on its surface. Phobos' and Deimos' prism and LXD spectra, however, show no indications for absorption signatures of mafic silicates (i.e., pyroxene, olivine), organics nor carbonates.

Refs.

Takir, D., Matsuoka, M., Waiters, A., Kaluna, H. and Usui, T., 2021. Observations of Phobos and Deimos with SpeX at NASA infrared telescope facility. Icarus, p.114691.

 

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