Extravehicular activity operations concepts under communication latency and bandwidth constraints
2017 IEEE Aerospace Conference
The Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) project is a multi-year program dedicated to iteratively develop, implement, and evaluate concepts of operations (ConOps) and supporting capabilities intended to enable and enhance human scientific exploration of Mars. This paper describes the planning, execution, and initial results from the first field deployment, referred to as BASALT-1, which consisted of a series of 10 simulated extravehicular activities (EVAs) on volcanic
... (EVAs) on volcanic flows in Idaho's Craters of the Moon (COTM) National Monument. The ConOps and capabilities deployed and tested during BASALT-1 were based on previous NASA trade studies and analog testing. Our primary research question was whether those ConOps and capabilities work acceptably when performing real (non-simulated) biological and geological scientific exploration under 4 different Mars-to-Earth communication conditions: 5 and 15 min one-way light time (OWLT) communication latencies and low (0.512 Mb/s uplink, 1.54 Mb/s downlink) and high (5.0 Mb/s uplink, 10.0 Mb/s downlink) bandwidth conditions representing the lower and higher limits of technical communication capabilities currently proposed for future human exploration missions. The synthesized results of BASALT-1 with respect to the ConOps and capabilities assessment were derived from a variety of sources, including EVA task timing data, network analytic data, and subjective ratings and comments regarding the scientific and operational acceptability of the ConOp and the extent to which specific capabilities were enabling and enhancing, and are presented here. BASALT-1 established preliminary findings that baseline ConOp, software systems, and communication protocols were scientifically and operationally acceptable with minor improve-ments desired by the "Mars" extravehicular (EV) and intravehicular (IV) crewmembers, but unacceptable with improvements required by the "Earth" Mission Support Center. These data will provide a basis for guiding and prioritizing capability development for future BASALT deployments and, ultimately, future human exploration missions.