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The AMADEE-20 Science Workshop took place from 01. – 03. April 2022 in Vienna. During this workshop scientists and researchers from various institutions presented their preliminary findings of their experiment, which was conducted during our last Mars analog simulation in October 2021 in Israel.
Curious, on how the experiments performed? Then read our summary of the AMADEE-20 science workshop presentations here.
Let’s start with RETINA experiment from the DLR: They developed a technology demonstrator using a mobile device to retrieve retinal images. Monitoring the human eye during spaceflight is very important, as the spaceflight associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) is the number 2 medial risk for astronauts on long duration spaceflight. During the LunAres Hecate and the AMADEE-20 mission the analog astronauts collected the images and assessed via NASA Task Load Index (TLX) how the workload of collecting these images was perceived. This experiment successfully demonstrated that small, mobile, non-invasive, non-contact device can capture relevant retinal images from healthy test subjects in an isolated analog environment. Currently RETINA is conducted on the ISS by ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer to increase the technology readiness level and improve the monitoring of the human eye during spaceflight.
The exploration of the red planet is evolving faster than ever. Mars is currently hosting ten successfully landed rovers/landers and for the first time an aerial vehicle – the Ingenuity helicopter. To make missions like Ingenuity successful it is essential to develop a reliable algorithm for robot localization and test it in a realistic environment (Martian analog) on Earth. The AMAZE experiment team from the University Klagenfurt is one of the leading teams researching uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV) on Mars. After AMADEE-18 in Oman, they improved their drone and algorithms to test it again during AMADEE-20 in Israel. With their 15 flights (3 of them close-up flights which Ingenuity can’t do) they gathered 50+ datasets on various textured environments. With these data the team will develop the next-generation visual-inertial based navigation.
To learn more how their algorithm works check out their video on YouTube:
Driving cars on Mars. Sounds simple isn’t it, especially when you teleoperated a car-sized rover from inside a habitat in an analog Martian environment. To gain more Situation Awareness the MEROP experiment team from Instituto Superior Técnico & University developed an operator control unit with a novel multimodal interface, that includes two haptic feedback devices. These provide information on the attitude and traction of the rover while teleoperating. During AMADEE-20 in total 31 trial runs were conducted. The analog astronauts teleoperated from inside the habitat the Mercator rover outside. The trial runs were split in inspection and exploration runs. The first insights from the experiment are promising and show that teleoperation of a robot for a certain task is preferable than doing an EVA. However, the key for a successful run is a good and stable wireless connection.
With the AMADEE-20 experiment Movement, Space, and Group-health in a confined area (MSG) by the Eco-Encounter Study Institute group dynamics were researched in a novel way. The researcher team placed 17 fixed motion sensors in the #simulateMars habitat in Israel and the 6 analog astronauts also carried personal sensors. In addition, the astronaut filled in a daily visual questionnaire. The movements and sensations of 6 analog astronauts within the habitat were recorded for 22 days. These raw data were then analyzed by 5 aspects: location, density, frequencies, proximity, domains.
“We want to see how individuals construct the group”, explained PI David Michaeli, “looking at the data makes me think about a living cell”. According to the researchers, the data collected thus far already provides numerous research paths that will hopefully improve future space missions.
Check out some of their maps they created.
Deep space for everyone! This is Team Tumbleweed’s motivation to make Mars exploration more accessible by building a novel, wind driven Mars rover. The team built a prototype which was part of AMADEE-20 as proof of concept. In Israel’s Negev desert, the rolling behavior of the 2.5-meter-diameter-structure was observed, and the collection of data was successfully tested. The six sails attached to the rover and the wind enabled the Tumbleweed’s movement while onboard sensors placed in pods and attached to the arcs were collecting data and saving them in a database.
Note: Team Tumbleweed is a Junior Researchers Experiment, the team is purely a student team.
With the SHARE experiment from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Cognitique, Bordeaux INP & Association Planète Mars navigation instructions in unknown terrain was tested during AMADEE-20 in Israel. Different people from the Mission Support Center hat to write instructions for the analog astronauts on EVA to guide them to a certain location. The MSC team only had a map to define the instructions. In total there were 5 SHARE runs with each 3 different locations to find. In the best run, the analog astronaut reached target within 3 m. So what are the best instructions?
Using remarkable landmarks like large bush/rock, don’t use instructions like go 100m SSW (difficult to navigate without a GPS device), use egocentric AND allocentric guidance instructions.
Can teams on #simulateMars and Earth work together besides time-delayed communication? How to teams develop over time during such a simulation? With the #INTERTEAM experiment of the University Bremen team processes, crew cohesion and performance in interdependently working teams were researched during AMADEE-20.
Following teams took part: analog astronauts in the habitat in the Negev desert, the Mission Support Center (MSC) in Innsbruck, and the On-Site-Support (OSS) team in Israel.
INTERTEAM was divided into 2 parts.
1 examined the team processes and constructs within the cohesive teams. The 6 analog astronauts and six participants each from the MSC and OSS had to solve team tasks in five rounds within the mission. These included, for example, the planning of an event, where each team member had to take on different tasks – starting with catering, through decoration to the selection of the music program. It was interesting to observe how agreements and decision-making processes took place within the teams.
2 referred to the team processes between the three teams and consisted of three rounds. Together, two analog astronauts and two participants each from the MSC and OSS solved different team tasks per run. The astronauts and OSS shared their answers with the MSC, which forwarded its own answers and the answers of the other team to the third team. The answers of all teams were needed to be able to solve the next team task. The communication between the teams took the time delay between Earth and analog Mars into account.
OGH stands for Off Grid Habitation and was an experiment by D-MARS. For OGH experiment the habitat itself was the research object. Therefore, several sensors were placed in- and outside the habitat which measured temperature, humidity, pressure, eCO2 and other. In addition, the analog astronauts also filled out questionnaires. All these data will be reviewed and analyzed to improve the D-MARS habitat.
Preliminary data shows that solar capacity was too low, during nights fuel generator provided additional power. Also, data collection and monitoring of consumables was insufficient. From the questionnaire feedback more working stations, more storage space, and new hygiene module filters was suggested for a successor habitat.
With the Mercator rover from the Exoscot experiment team (TU Graz) autonomous exploration and mapping of unstructured environments was tested during AMADEE-20 in Israel. The ultimate goal was to provide data for “remote” researchers to be used in the exploration cascade algorithm. During the mission the Mercator rover had 32 runs in total including one up to 1 km. During these runs 3D scans and images were collected every 5 m. Therefore, the team successfully demonstrated that with their software algorithm and processing pipeline for autonomous exploration and mapping works. However, the integration and benefit for the remote researchers are still limited due to several thing (e.g. the data dump was to big to be transferred during the day).
VFR-eFAST stands for Validity and Feasibility of Remote extended Focused Assessment Sonography in Trauma and was a medical experiment from the Örebro University Hospital. The goal was to find out if non-medical person can produce meaningful ultrasound images.
During the AMADEE-20 mission in Israel all analog astronauts had to do an Abdomen ultrasound examination. None of them were trained for that, they only got instructions via video. In total there were 6 test runs. The examination pictures were reviewed after the mission & scored by a standard scale. The preliminary results show that in overall the quality of pictures was good. Some areas like the heart were challenging.
This experiment could have been done in a lab as well, but if you do it in an analog environment it is far more realistic (e.g. lack of sleep, stressful situations…). Context does matter for these kinds of experiments.
Learn more about the AMADEE-20 Mars simulation:
This article is available in: German
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