Title of Presentation: Drilling Automation for Mars Exploration (DAME)

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Brian Glass

Organization of Primary Author: NASA-Ames Research Center

Co-Authors: H. Cannon, S. Hanagud, K. Davis


Abstract:  This paper describes the results from the Mars Instrument Development Program (MIDP) Drilling Automation for Mars Exploration (DAME) project, including the 2006 test results from an Arctic analog-site (Haughton Crater).  The drill hardware is a hardened, evolved version of the Advanced Deep Drill (ADD) developed for the Mars Subsurface Program at JPL by industry.  The current ADD is capable of 20m, and we are developing diagnostic and executive software for hands-off surface operations of the evolved version of this drill.  The ADD is designed to meet current planetary flight requirements (50kg mass, 200W/day power draw).   The current drill automation architecture being developed by NASA has been tested in 2004-06 at analog sites in the Arctic and Spain, and  adds downhole diagnosis of different strata, bit wear detection, and dynamic replanning capabilities when unexpected failures or drilling conditions are discovered. 

Future in-situ lunar/martian resource utilization and characterization, as well as the search for ice and organic compounds on Mars, will require access to the subsurface and hence drilling.  Drilling on Earth is hard – an art form more than an engineering discipline.  Human operators listen and feel drill string vibrations coming from kilometers underground.  Abundant mass and energy make it possible for terrestrial drilling to employ brute-force approaches to failure recovery and system performance issues.  Space drilling will require intelligent and autonomous systems for robotic exploration and to support human exploration.