by Doug Ellison in Potsdam
Part two of todays' afternoon session on Lunar Exploration and Robotics is about how to target a rock on Mars without having to jump through hoops to do it!
Dr David Barnes presented on the difficulties of getting a rover to reach a target, get its arm deployed and onto a science target. He didn't concede much ground in terms of the improvements to the MER software (which include systems such as 'go-and-touch') - but did explain what was true when Spirit and Opportunity first landed - that it could take as long as 3 days to identify, drive to, and deploy instruments on to a target.
He and his team at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, have been working on software that will hopefully run onboard spacecraft such as ExoMars to reduce that three-day timetable to less than a day. They worked on the software to simulated and calibrate the robotic arm for Beagle 2 - and with half a smile, he said that because it needed people in the loop so much, Beagle 2 was