Elaine Walker's Personal Journal - HMP 2004 Education and Public Outreach
July 25, 2004
This morning a few of us took a walk out to the Honeybee Robotics drill site for the DAME (Drilling Automation for Mars Exploration) Project. Accompanying me were Camille Desportes de la Fosse (geophysicist at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST), University of Paris) and Keith Davidson (Assistant to the HMP Chief Field Engineer). Camille is a graduate student in engineering geology and geophysics, and a Mars Institute summer graduate student intern. Along our mile walk, we stopped at sites that Camille was interested in for his research with Pascal on the relationship between polygonal soils and the presence of ground ice. We took some photographs of the polygons we encountered that were of interest.
Continuing to set up the drill were Brian Glass (NASA Ames), Principal Investigator for the DAME Project, Howard Cannon (NASA Ames), Eric Mumm and Tom Kennedy (both of Honeybee Robotics). The Mars Institute's Mars-1 Humvee Rover is serving well as a platform for their drilling work, keeping their tools and computer systems clean and dry. The tarp was still in place and the drill looked to be near completion, but it was time for lunch. We didn't think we'd miss very much since the team was breaking for lunch soon too.
After lunch I had an opportunity to traverse into Haughton Crater. There are many research projects going on here simultaneously and sometimes it necessary to miss one opportunity in order to catch another. A traverse into the crater on an ATV is one that I would rarely pass up. It was be my first traverse this season, and was actually in support of the DAME project. Pascal was on a mission to pick a route to a new site inside Haughton crater for the drill team to set up their equipment for a second set of tests. Pascal stopped our traverse along the way to explain some geology about the crater and describe some rocks he was picking up. He found several shatter cones, showed us some breccia, and explained where the lichen comes from. Orange lichen is present on many of the highest rocks. Pascal calls these rocks "bird airports", because the lichens grow from bird droppings left on the highest rocks in the area.
After Pascal picked out a round to the new drill site, the three of us headed back towards the NASA HMP base camp and out to the current drill site to see what progress they had made. Miraculously, they were just about to start drilling into the ground ice for the first time, so we witnessed that spectacular moment. We didn't stay very long since a twin otter flight was going to be landing soon and we headed back to base camp. Tonight dinner was delayed until after the new participants arrive on the twin otter. This way we were all together for dinner and an organizational meeting.
New arrivals were Sathya Hanagud and Massimo Ruzzene (both of the School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology), and media representatives from CNN Global Challenges and Le Figaro Magazine. Also arriving were Randy Pijamini and Robby Kikkak (both High School students from Grise Fiord). Sathya Hanagud and Massimo Ruzzene are working with Brian Glass and the Honeybee Robotics drill team on the DAME Project, developing software that will allow the drill to self-diagnose and self-correct problems that may occur. Their system is physically separate from the DAME software and involves a laser sensor to pick up the subtle vibration of the drill train.