Greetings from Devon Island, Canada! I’m here in the Haughton Crater testing our Ice Breaker drill using automation software developed by NASA Ames’ Brian Glass. In a real-world deployment, the drill would be operating on another planet, completely out of reach from human help. So, it needs to be as reliable as possible, and operate autonomously despite potentially hitting obstacles that could challenge its operation. Dr. Glass is writing automation software that enables the drill to learn from operational challenges, so that it can identify faults and recover from them.
This is all a lead-up to a big trip down to Antarctica in about six months, where we’ll test the drill in a Mars analog environment — dry, cold, and hard conditions.