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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2004-12-03
    Description: The Mars Surveyor missions that will be launched in April of 2001 will include a highly capable rover that is a successor to the Mars Pathfinder mission's Sojourner rover. The design goals for this rover are a total traverse distance of at least 10 km and a total lifetime of at least one Earth year. The rover's job will be to explore a site in Mars' ancient terrain, searching for materials likely to preserve a record of ancient martian water, climate, and possibly biology. The rover will collect rock and soil samples, and will store them for return to Earth by a subsequent Mars Surveyor mission in 2005. The Athena Mars rover science payload is the suite of scientific instruments and sample collection tools that will be used to perform this job. The specific science objectives that NASA has identified for the '01 rover payload are to: (1) Provide color stereo imaging of martian surface environments, and remotely-sensed point discrimination of mineralogical composition. (2) Determine the elemental and mineralogical composition of martian surface materials. (3) Determine the fine-scale textural properties of these materials. (4) Collect and store samples. The Athena payload has been designed to meet these objectives. The focus of the design is on field operations: making sure the rover can locate, characterize, and collect scientifically important samples in a dusty, dirty, real-world environment. The topography, morphology, and mineralogy of the scene around the rover will be revealed by Pancam/Mini-TES, an integrated imager and IR spectrometer. Pancam views the surface around the rover in stereo and color. It uses two high-resolution cameras that are identical in most respects to the rover's navigation cameras. The detectors are low-power, low-mass active pixel sensors with on-chip 12-bit analog-to-digital conversion. Filters provide 8-12 color spectral bandpasses over the spectral region from 0.4 to 1.1 micron Narrow-angle optics provide an angular resolution of 0.28 mrad/pixel, nearly a factor of four higher than that of the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Surveyor '98 cameras. Image compression will be performed using a wavelet compression algorithm. The Mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) is a point spectrometer operating in -the thermal IR. It produces high spectral resolution (5 /cm) image cubes with a wavelength range of 5-40 gm, a nominal signal/noise ratio of 500:1, and a maximum angular resolution of 7 mrad (7 cm at a distance of 10 in). The wavelength region over which it operates samples the diagnostic fundamental absorption features of rockforming minerals, and also provides some capability to see through dust coatings that could tend to obscure spectral features. The mineralogical information that Mini-TES provides will be used to select from a distance the rocks and soils that will be investigated in more detail and ultimately sampled. Mini-TES is derived from the MO/MGS TES instrument, but is significantly smaller and simpler. The instrument uses an 8-cm Cassegrain telescope, a Michelson interferometer, and uncooled pyroelectric detectors. Along with its mineralogical capabilities, Mini-TES can provide information on the thermophysical properties of rocks and soils. Viewing upward, it can also provide temperature profiles through the martian atmospheric boundary layer. Elemental and Mineralogical Composition: Once promising samples have been identified from a distance using Pancam/Mini-TES, they will be studied in detail using up to three compositional sensors that can be placed directly against them by an Instrument Arm. The two compositional sensors, presently on the payload are an Alpha-Proton-X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), and a Mossbauer Spectrometer. The APXS is derived closely from the instrument that flew on Mars Pathfinder. Radioactive alpha sources and three detection modes (alpha, proton, and x-ray) provide elemental abundances of rocks and soils to complement and constrain mineralogical data. The Athena APXS will have a revised mechanical design that will cut down significantly on backscattering of alpha particles from martian atmospheric carbon. It will also include a target of known elemental composition that will be used for calibration purposes. The Athena Mossbauer Spectrometer is a diagnostic instrument for the mineralogy and oxidation state of Fe-bearing phases, which are particularly important on Mars. The instrument measures the resonant absorption of gamma rays produced by a Co-57 source to determine splitting of nuclear energy levels in Fe atoms that is related to the electronic environment surrounding them. It has been under development for space flight for many years at the Technical University of Darmstadt. The Mossbauer Spectrometer (and the other arm instruments) will be able to view a small permanent magnet array that will attract magnetic particles in the martian soil. The payload may also include a Raman Spectrometer. If included, the Raman Spectrometer will provide precise identification of major and minor mineral phases. It requires no sample preparation, and is also sensitive to organics. Fine-Scale Texture: The Instrument Arm a also carries a Microscopic Imager that will obtain high-resolution monochromatic images of the same materials for which compositional data will be obtained. Its spatial resolution is 20 micron/pixel over a 1 cm depth of field, and 40 micron/pixel over a 1-cm depth of field. Like Pancam, it uses the same active pixel sensor detectors and electronics as the rover's navigation cameras. The Instrument Arm is a three degree-of-freedom arm that uses designs and components from the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Surveyor '98 projects. Its primary function is instrument positioning. Along with the instruments noted above, it also carries a brush that can be used to remove dust and other loose coatings from rocks. Sample Collection and Storage: Martian rock and soil samples will be collected using a low-power rotary coring drill called the Mini-Corer. An important characteristic of this device is that it can obtain intact samples of rock from up to 5 cm within strong boulders and bedrock, Nominal core dimensions are 8xl7 mm. The Mini-Corer drills a core to the commanded depth in a rock, shears it off, retains it, and extracts it. It can also acquire samples of loose soil, using soil sample cups that are pressed downward into loose material. The Mini-Corer can drill at angles from vertical to 45' off vertical. It has six interchangeable bits for long life. Mechanical damage to the sample during drilling is minimal, and heating is negligible. After acquisition, the sample may be viewed by the arm instruments, and/or placed in one of 104 compartments in the Sample Container. A subset of the acquired samples may be replaced with other samples obtained later if desired. The Sample Container has no moving parts, and is mounted external to the rover for easy removal by the Mars Surveyor 2005 flight system. Operation of the rover will make extensive use of automated onboard navigation and hazard avoidance capabilities. Otherwise, use of onboard autonomy is minimal. Data downlink capability is about 40 Mbit/sol, and the use of the Mars Surveyor '01 orbiter for data relay imposes a limit of at most two command cycles per sol. Because of the significant amount of time available between command cycles, all payload elements will be operated sequentially, rather than in parallel.; this approach also significantly simplifies operations and minimizes peak power usage. The landing site for the '01 rover has not been selected yet. Site selection will make as full use as possible of Mars Global Surveyor data, and will involve substantial input from the broad Mars science community. Summary: The following table describes the mass, power, providers, and key scientific objectives of all the major elements of the Athena payload. Additional Athena payload information may be found at: http://astrosun.tn.cornell.edu/athena/index.html. Additional information contained in the original.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Mars Surveyor 2001 Landing Site Workshop
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2004-12-03
    Description: In response to the question 'what to do next' at Mars we explore the value of a high precision in situ measurement of isotopic and trace gas constituents in the atmosphere combined with a similar analysis of gas extracted from near surface rocks and soils. The scientific goals are to advance our understanding of the evolution of the Martian atmosphere and to search for fossils of past geochemical conditions. One element of this program that ties directly to the goals of the Astrobiology Program will be a sensitive search for simple or complex organic molecules contained in the atmosphere and in the solid phase. The broad chemical and isotopic analysis planned insures that a highly successful program will be carried out even if no organics are detected. We will demonstrate that the technology to carry out this Program is presently in hand.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration; Part 2; 204-205; LPI-Contrib-1062-Pt-2
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2004-12-03
    Description: The Athena Precursor Experiment (APEX) is a suite of scientific instruments for the Mars Surveyor Program 2001 (MSP'01) lander. The major elements of the APEX pay load are: (1) Pancam/Mini-TES, a combined stereo color imager and mid-infrared point spectrometer. (2) An Alpha-Proton-X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) for in-situ elemental analysis. (3) A Mossbauer Spectrometer for in-situ determination of the mineralogy of Fe-bearing rocks and soils. (4) A Magnet Array that can separate magnetic soil particles from non-magnetic ones.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Workshop on Mars 2001: Integrated Science in Preparation for Sample Return and Human Exploration; 98-100; LPI-Contrib-991
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: We propose to develop a new mission to Titan called Titan Orbiter with Aerorover Mission (TOAM). This mission is motivated by the recent discoveries of Titan, its atmosphere and its surface by the Huygens Probe, and a combination of in situ, remote sensing and radar mapping measurements of Titan by the Cassini orbiter. Titan is a body for which Astrobiology (i.e., prebiotic chemistry) will be the primary science goal of any future missions to it. TOAM is planned to use an orbiter and balloon technology (i.e., aerorover). Aerobraking will be used to put payload into orbit around Titan. One could also use aerobraking to put spacecraft into orbit around Saturn first for an Enceladus phase of the mission and then later use aerocapture to put spacecraft into orbit around Titan. The Aerorover will probably use a hot air balloon concept using the waste heat from the MMRTG approx. 1000 watts. Orbiter support for the Aerorover is unique to our approach for Titan. Our strategy to use an orbiter is contrary to some studies using just a single probe with balloon. Autonomous operation and navigation of the Aerorover around Titan will be required, which will include descent near to the surface to collect surface samples for analysis (i.e., touch and go technique). The orbiter can provide both relay station and GPS roles for the Aerorover. The Aerorover will have all the instruments needed to sample Titan's atmosphere, surface, possible methane lakes-rivers, use multi-spectral imagers for surface reconnaissance; to take close up surface images; take core samples and deploy seismometers during landing phase. Both active and passive broadband remote sensing techniques will be used for surface topography, winds and composition measurements.
    Keywords: Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
    Type: Titan Workshop; Feb 14, 2007 - Feb 15, 2007; Paris; France
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-18
    Description: Following the successful landings of both Mars Exploration Rover (MER) vehicles at Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum, respectively, their Athena suite of instruments is being used to study the geologic history of these two very different landing sites on Mars that had been selected on the basis of showing different types of evidence for aqueous processes in the planet s past. Utilizing the on-board instruments as well as the rovers mobility system, a wide range of physical properties investigations is carried out as well - the subject of this abstract - that provide additional information on the geology and processes at the sites. Results of the mission in general as well as of the physical properties studies thus far greatly exceed expectations in that observations and measurements by both vehicles show a rich variety in materials and processes: the Gusev site in the vicinity of the lander is remarkably flat and generally devoid of large rocks along traverses up to the time of this writing (approx.Sol 50) and suggestive of a deflated surface with generally only thin veneers of bright dust while exhibiting evidence of a widespread occurrence of a crust from cemented fines that has been observed to fail in the form of blocky clods when disturbed by vehicle rolling action; numerous small and shallow depressions - presumably created by impacts - are observed at the site which are infilled with bright, fine-grained material that likewise appears indurated and which was studied by a trenching experiment; small ripple bedforms are scattered across the site and were characterized in terms of particle size distributions. At the Meridiani site, studies so far - up to approx.Sol 33 - have focussed on soils and the rock outcrop encountered within the approx.20 m diameter crater that the spacecraft came to rest in: from a physical properties point of view, a mantle of dark, well-sorted, apparently basaltic sand with small to moderate cohesion has been of interest - and has been studied by a trenching experiment - as well as a fine-grained unit underlying the mantle at least locally within the crater. Rock grindings were accomplished successfully at both sites at the time of this writing, suggesting different strengths of the two targets (the basaltic rock nicknamed Adirondack at Gusev and the Meridiani rock outcrop) in addition to enabling compositional measurements below the original rock surfaces.
    Keywords: Geophysics
    Type: 35th COSPAR Scientific Assembly; Jul 18, 2004 - Jul 24, 2004; Paris; France
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-18
    Description: We present details of a miniature integrated time-of-flight mass spectrometer and sample handling system under development to address some of the needs for in situ sample analysis on landed missions. Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIII; LPI-Contrib-1109
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-17
    Description: The rate of discovery of new Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) and the success of D-S 1 and NEAR-Shoemaker, suggest that sample return from NEAs is now technically feasible. Here we present a summary of a recent workshop on the topic. Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXII; LPI-Contrib-1080
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2018-06-11
    Description: The purpose of this paper is to report the 'early returns' on the physical properties of soil units and rocks at the MER landing sites. Because we are still very early in the mission at Meridiani Planum, results from the Gusev Crater Landing Site are emphasized here.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Mars Missions; LPI-Contrib-1197
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2017-10-02
    Description: Montgolfiere balloons can provide a unique near-surface platform for an extended traverse over the polar regions of Mars. During the polar summer, such solar powered balloons would remain in the constant sun of the polar summer and could remain airborne for many weeks or even months as the atmospheric circulation would drive the balloons around the polar region many times before the balloon would cross the terminator. Such a platform for scientific measurements could provide in situ sampling of the atmosphere for trace disequilibrium species that might be indicators of present geological or biological activity in this region. It could furthermore provide high resolution imaging, deep electromagnetic (EM) sounding for subsurface stratigraphy and liquid water, and high spatial resolution neutron measurements of subsurface ice. Technologies for robust balloon deployment on entry and controlled encounters with the surface and near subsurface for sample acquisition in otherwise inaccessible regions are presently being studied and developed with support from NASA.
    Keywords: Exobiology
    Type: Third International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration; LPI-Contrib-1184
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-07-10
    Description: Since the 1960s, claims have been made that water ice deposits should exist in permanently shadowed craters near both lunar poles. Recent interpretations of data from the Lunar Prospector-Neutron Spectrometer (LP- NS) confirm that significant concentrations of hydrogen exist, probably in the form of water ice, in the permanently shadowed polar cold traps. Yet, due to the large spatial resolution (45-60 Ian) of the LP-NS measurements relative to these shadowed craters (approx.5-25 km), these data offer little certainty regarding the precise location, form or distribution of these deposits. Even less is known about how such deposits of water ice might effect lunar regolith physical properties relevant to mining, excavation, water extraction and construction. These uncertainties will need to be addressed in order to validate fundamental lunar In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) precepts by 2011. Given the importance of the in situ utilization of water and other resources to the future of space exploration a need arises for the advanced deployment of a robotic and reconfigurable system for physical properties and resource reconnaissance. Based on a collection of high-TRL. designs, the Subsurface Analyzer and Sample Handler (SASH) addresses these needs, particularly determining the location and form of water ice and the physical properties of regolith. SASH would be capable of: (1) subsurface access via drilling, on the order of 3-10 meters into both competent targets (ice, rock) and regolith, (2) down-hole analysis through drill string embedded instrumentation and sensors (Neutron Spectrometer and Microscopic Imager), enabling water ice identification and physical properties measurements; (3) core and unconsolidated sample acquisition from rock and regolith; (4) sample handling and processing, with minimized contamination, sample containerization and delivery to a modular instrument payload. This system would be designed with three mission enabling goals, including: (1) a self-contained, low power, low mass, "black box'' configuration for operations from a lander, various classes of rovers or a surface-based platform with human assistance or robotic anchoring mechanisms; (2) reconfigurable and scalable sample handling for delivery to various types of instrumentation, depending on mission requirements; and (3) the use of advanced automation control and diagnostic techniques that will afford local human deployed, remote teleoperation and fully autonomous intelligent operations. Though a great deal of technology has been advanced toward these objectives, the SASH system faces significant design challenges, including the low gravity environment, various levels of autonomy in operations, radiation exposure, dust contamination, and temperature extremes and deltas. Significant input from the scientific and engineering communities, as well as a significant environmental testing program, will be required to guide the design process.
    Keywords: Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
    Type: Space Resources Roundtable VI; 21; LPI-Contrib-1224
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