NASA SBIR 2009 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 09-2 S5.03-9090
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Surface and Subsurface Robotic Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE: Arm-Deployed Rotary-Percussive Coring Drill

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W. 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(212) 966-0661

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jack Wilson
460 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(646) 459-7816

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The continued development of automated sample acquisition and handling tools is of critical importance to future robotic missions on Mars, the Moon, Venus, and other planetary bodies. In response to the need for a compact, low mass, low power, and low weight-on-bit coring device, Honeybee Robotics proposes to continue development of an arm-deployed and arm-stabilized rotary-percussive coring tool. By using a robotic arm to deploy the coring tool into rock or soil targets and stabilize the tool while operating, the coring tool's internal deployment (or "z") axis and external stabilization devices can be removed, resulting in a more compact, lower mass device. Also, adding percussion to the coring tool will reduce average weight-on-bit and energy consumption over the duration of the coring operation. The flexibility afforded from a rover or lander arm to target outcroppings, and the relatively higher TRL of surface coring tools (vs. deeper subsurface drills), make surface coring, especially with an arm-deployed coring tool, a particularly attractive option for near term planetary exploration.

During Phase I, a preliminary coring tool design was developed that weighs less than 5 kg and meets all of the current MSR requirements. Breadboard testing also demonstrated the feasibility of arm-deployed and stabilized coring.

The objectives of Phase II are to further develop, demonstrate and characterize a TRL 5/6 MSR-compatible coring tool. The rotary-percussive coring tool will weigh less than 5 kg, be arm-deployed and stabilized, include a passive linear feed device, require less than 50 N weight-on-bit, produce and capture 1 cm diameter by 5 cm long cores, accommodate active bit change-out and passive bit release, and positively retain cores in core tubes when removed from the bit. The coring tool will be fully demonstrated and characterized at ambient and Mars conditions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Future robotic astrobiology and geology missions such as Mars Sample Return, Astrobiology Field Laboratory and other Mid-Range Rover missions will benefit greatly from the ability to produce and capture rock and regolith cores using an arm-deployed, arm-stabilized, compact, low mass, low power device. Such a coring drill could also be deployed during lunar sortie missions by astronauts (operating as a hand-held coring drill) since it is desirable to bring small cores back to Earth as opposed to large rocks. From a science standpoint, core samples have a distinct advantage over collected drill cuttings in that the stratigraphy and morphology of the sample is preserved. This facilitates detection of localized organics and fossil biosignatures, as well as analysis of geochemistry and mineralogy. The need for a flight-ready surface coring tool has been evident in various NASA program reviews, mission concepts, and mission baselines.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Rotary-percussive core drilling has many terrestrial applications in industry and in the research and development fields. Core samples are integral to the study of a wide range of fields, from geological classification to ocean drilling and surveying. Potential applications of the proposed coring technology include sidewall coring and subsampling for the petroleum industry, as well as in the study of earthquake mechanics or terrestrial biology (specifically coring in the Arctic and Antarctic.) Automation of the rotary-percussive coring process would also benefit these industries and fields, saving time and money and enabling the engineering and science goals of the various applications to be realized with reduced schedule and budget risk.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
In-situ Resource Utilization
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems

Form Generated on 08-06-10 17:29