Author Topic: How should manned and robotic exploration be combined?  (Read 555 times)

Offline Don2

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
Robots are cheaper per flight, and can operate for years at a location. Manned flights can bring heavy, power hungry, complex equipment and can return large masses of samples to earth. Apollo landings returned 100kg of samples versus the 1kg of sample which is typically planned for robotic sample return missions.

Jobs robots do better:

1/Long term monitoring of weather, earthquakes etc
2/Surveying a site with cameras, ground penetrating radars, neutron spectrometers etc
3/ Touch science investigations of interesting outcrops and boulders

Jobs for manned missions:

1/Sample collection and return
2/Anything involving drilling rocks
3/ In particular, drilling core samples for return.

Drilling core samples is something I think the manned program should focus on. Cores preserve the layering, and labs on earth can date each layer. A core drilled through the lake bed sediments at Gale Crater would be scientifically very valuable for instance. A core drilled at the lunar poles might discover buried underground ice. A 10cm diameter core would weigh about 19 kg per meter. If drilled to 10m depth it would weigh 190kg. That kind of sample return mass has never been considered for a robot mission, but would be realistic for a manned mission. Core drilling would allow the manned program to make a unique contribution to exploration.

Offline Refleks

  • Member
  • Posts: 10
  • USA
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: How should manned and robotic exploration be combined?
« Reply #1 on: 02/28/2018 03:50 AM »
Having people close by (ie, Lunar / Martian orbit, instead of Earth) Latency drops to an acceptable level to allow advanced tele-presence / augmented reality operations to complement pure-robotics missions.  VR Goggles and upper body motion capture, combined with stereoscopic cameras and before you know it...




 ;D

Offline Don2

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: How should manned and robotic exploration be combined?
« Reply #2 on: 02/28/2018 08:58 PM »
The place to develop something like that would be ISS. It could be useful for replacing astronaut EVAs thereby cutting operating costs. However, the robot is complicated, and qualifying it for the thermal environment of space would be expensive. Also, component reliability is an issue. One of the motors in Curiosity's drill has stopped working, and they have been struggling to develop a work around.

I don't see the argument for putting something in lunar orbit to enable telepresence operations on the moon. The earth-moon comms delay is only about 1 s, and teleoperation from the earth's surface should work just fine for the tasks the robot needs to do. Placing a science instrument on a rock outcrop isn't that complicated.

Offline Refleks

  • Member
  • Posts: 10
  • USA
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: How should manned and robotic exploration be combined?
« Reply #3 on: 03/01/2018 02:50 AM »
No argument here

Online speedevil

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2149
  • Fife
  • Liked: 1056
  • Likes Given: 1184
Re: How should manned and robotic exploration be combined?
« Reply #4 on: 03/01/2018 03:27 AM »
Robots are cheaper per flight, and can operate for years at a location. Manned flights can bring heavy, power hungry, complex equipment and can return large masses of samples to earth. Apollo landings returned 100kg of samples versus the 1kg of sample which is typically planned for robotic sample return missions.

You are implicitly assuming several things that may not be true in the future.

For example, robots will be small and low powered, and low mass.

This pretty much flows from the assumption that robots should cost about $1M/kg.

As launch capability rises, and price drops, you simply can't expand the robots size and remain at business as usual.

Either distributed launch on FH, or competing rockets, or BFR/S when it arrives could drastically increase the capability of robots, particularly to the moon.
Further out would require better automation, but for the moon, remarkable things happen with teleoperation, a tiny relay sat in L1, and rovers weighing in the tons, not kilos.


Offline Ben the Space Brit

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7116
  • A spaceflight fan
  • London, UK
  • Liked: 641
  • Likes Given: 751
Re: How should manned and robotic exploration be combined?
« Reply #5 on: 03/01/2018 11:01 AM »
I believe that the next major usage of robotics in concert with human spaceflight is engineering precursor missions with robot manufacturing and assembly units being sent ahead to assemble the shielded habitats that long-term human exploration of worlds like the Moon and Mars would require from local materials.
"Oops! I left the silly thing in reverse!" - Duck Dodgers

~*~*~*~

The Space Shuttle Program - 1981-2011

The time for words has passed; The time has come to put up or shut up!
DON'T PROPAGANDISE, FLY!!!

Tags: