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WVRTC RISES Program Holds Technical Review with NASA JSC

RISES Robotic Demonstration at WVRTCThe WVRTC Robotic In-Situ Surface Exploration System (RISES) team hosted the technical mentor team from the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX to review with the progress of the NASA Early Stage Innovation (ESI) research project. (More information on RISES: https://www.nasa.gov/content/robotic-in-situ-surface-exploration-system-rises/#.V3aNh1f-2V8 )

ESI is a NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate program that awards contracts to develop low-TRL technologies in alignment with NASA’s future space exploration missions.

The RISES research program specifically supports the Asteroid Redirect Mission with extended applications to any space exploration objective that can benefit from nondestructive characterization of material or structural components. The team at WVRTC proposed nondestructive testing (NDT) methods that could be used in-situ on an asteroid to determine its mechanical properties before committing to robotic capture operations.

The NASA JSC mentors of the WVRTC RISES program started their visit on the West Virginia University campus with an introduction and tour of the mining laboratory facilities.  The team performed demonstrations and technical presentations on the NDT capability.

The WVRTC facility in Fairmont was the next stop on the agenda.  A working lunch and technical presentation were followed by a full-scale robotic demonstration to determine the density and compressive strength values of asteroid analog boulders ranging in size from 1 – 6 meters in diameter — the minimum and maximum diameters targeted by the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

The WVRTC RISES team is currently halfway in the second year of the two-year research project and is aiming to closeout the program by increasing the prototype robotic tools to a TRL-5 level in hopes to extend the development for flight applications with ARM.


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