FIDO prototype Mars rover field trials, Black Rock Summit, Nevada, as test of the ability of robotic mobility systems to conduct field science



[1] The Field Integration Design and Operations (FIDO) prototype Mars rover was deployed and operated remotely for 2 weeks in May 2000 in the Black Rock Summit area of Nevada. The blind science operation trials were designed to evaluate the extent to which FIDO-class rovers can be used to conduct traverse science and collect samples. FIDO-based instruments included stereo cameras for navigation and imaging, an infrared point spectrometer, a color microscopic imager for characterization of rocks and soils, and a rock drill for core acquisition. Body-mounted “belly” cameras aided drill deployment, and front and rear hazard cameras enabled terrain hazard avoidance. Airborne Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) data, a high spatial resolution IKONOS orbital image, and a suite of descent images were used to provide regional- and local-scale terrain and rock type information, from which hypotheses were developed for testing during operations. The rover visited three sites, traversed 30 m, and acquired 1.3 gigabytes of data. The relatively small traverse distance resulted from a geologically rich site in which materials identified on a regional scale from remote-sensing data could be identified on a local scale using rover-based data. Results demonstrate the synergy of mapping terrain from orbit and during descent using imaging and spectroscopy, followed by a rover mission to test inferences and to make discoveries that can be accomplished only with surface mobility systems.