Coordination and Control of Multiple Climbing Robots in Transport of Heavy Loads through Extreme Terrain
The discovery of ice deposits in the permanently shadowed craters of the lunar North and South Pole Moon presents an important opportunity for In-Situ Resource Utilization. These ice deposits maybe the source for sustaining a lunar base or for enabling an interplanetary refueling station. These ice deposits also preserve a unique record of the geology and environment of their hosts, both in terms of impact history and the supply of volatile compounds, and so are of immense scientific interest. To date, these ice deposits have been studied indirectly and by remote active radar, but they need to be analyzed in-situ by robotic systems that can study the depths of the deposits, their purity and composition. However, these shadowed craters never see sunlight and are one of the coldest places in the solar system. NASA JPL proposed use of solar reflectors mounted on crater rims to project sunlight into the crater depths for use by ground robots. The solar reflectors would heat the crater base and vehicles positioned at the base sufficiently to survive the cold-temperatures. Our approach analyzes part of the logistics of the approach, with teams of robots climbing up and down to the crater to access the ice deposits. The mission will require robots to climb down extreme environments and carry large structures, including instruments and communication devices.