Status Report

Haughton Research Project Report Number: HMP-2001-0807

By SpaceRef Editor
August 9, 2001
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[Click on images for larger view]

By: Dr. Pascal Lee

Today was a day of logistical preparations for upcoming higher fidelity
EVA simulations. I spent part of the day at the HMP Base Camp with the
newly arrived team from Hamilton-Sundstrand Space Systems International
Inc., an aerospace firm currently under contract at NASA to develop and
support life support systems for EVA on the Shuttle and ISS programs.
Engineers Michael Boucher and Sean Murray form the team representing
Hamilton-Sundstrand and the research group led there by Ed Hogdson and
Ella Kisilis.

Reflection off of the gold plated visor of the Hamilton-Sundstrand
concept spacesuit helmet bubble showing Mike Boucher (left) preparing
the upper torso for field deployment.

(Photo NASA Haughton-Mars Project / Pascal Lee 010807-0106)

Hamilton-Sundstrand has been devoting some internal R&D resources to
develop a new EVA system concept for advanced space exploration. Mars
is a possible application target but the research emphasis for now is
placed on universal aspects of the future system. On this basis, we
have established on the NASA Haughton-Mars Project an experimental
research collaboration with Hamilton-Sundstrand involving NASA Johnson
Space Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Simon Fraser University and the
SETI Institute to investigate specifically the integration of new
information technologies into EVA systems and to develop field exploration
strategies and tools in areas generic to human space exploration but
relevant to human planetary exploration.

The research we are conducting takes advantage of the fact that we are
currently engaged in the conduct of actual field science operations on
Devon Island to develop new technologies that will help optimize the yield
of remote science activities in general. In the short term this research
will benefit efforts such as the ISS program directly. In the longer term,
it will help expand human activities beyond low Earth orbit, including of
course Mars. It is also a very exciting program that’s producing many new
ideas and technical approaches along with great opportunities for student

Michael Boucher (left) and Sean Murray of Hamilton-Sundstrand Space
Systems International Inc. prepare the upper torso of the concept spacesuit
for a test of information systems integration in support of scientific
field work.

(Photo NASA Haughton-Mars Project / Pascal Lee 010807-0122)

So today Mike and Sean put me in the “Ham-Sun” concept suit and began by
having me train a voice recognition system within the noisy confines of
the suit’s bubble helmet. We taught the software to recognize geological
words and expressions such as “meteorite impact induced hydrothermal
activity” and “stromatolite fossils in dolomitic carbonate”. Then I was
sent off on a short geological traverse with the suit and a wearable computer
secured to my head and backpack, a Xybernaut MA IV donated to the HMP by
Xybernaut Solutions Inc. Our Chief Field Engineer Steve Braham and his
research assistant Trish Garner kept me on a wireless leash, helping change
displays on my computer and tracking my GPS position, meanwhile reading my
geological observations as they were transcribed live.

Pascal in a field test of the Hamilton-Sundstrand concept suit upper
torso with integrated information systems, including a Xybernaut wearable
computer wirelessly connected to base via the field network established
by Steve Braham and Trish Garner.

(Photo NASA Haughton-Mars Project / Sean Murray 010807-0129)

It was an incredible experience. Here I was doing field geology in a
simulated spacesuit in a Mars-like setting, my notes being jotted down hands
free, my position recorded and time-stamped without a thought. I was able to
focus on the field science and also engage in consultative dialogue with
another crewmember while on “EVA”. Soon we’ll be able to call up maps and
other supporting information as required. None of this of course goes
without technical difficulties and engineering glitches, but that’s
precisely why we are doing the work now: to learn the lessons early, to
work out the bugs, to turn ideas into operational systems.

Pascal getting ready to train a voice recognition system within the
confines of the Hamilton-Sundstrand concept spacesuit upper torso.

(Photo NASA Haughton-Mars Project / Sean Murray 010807-0115)

Meanwhile, Kelly and Jaret left the Mars Society FMARS habitat in support
of a simulation of a crew-teleoperated robotic field reconnaissance mission
using a video camera hooked up to a transmitter on an ATV. They were sent
back to “Site 7” for additional surveys. Samson, Charlie, and I took turns
throughout the evening in the Hab teleoperating the simulated robot rover,
acquiring panoramic images and position information at a variety of
locations. In doing
so, we are going through the motions of having a crew plan an EVA to a site
where advance exploration by a teleoperated robotic system might be of help.

Jaret Matthews of Purdue University in the Mars Society’s Flashline Mars
Arctic Research upper deck holding his robot rover video teleoperation

(Photo by Pascal Lee 010806-1902).

We spent the rest of the evening catching up on reports and reading e-mail
from Earth. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll be going on an EVA, possibly the last
one of Phase 5. We plan to explore the very intriguing “Site 7”.

SpaceRef staff editor.