The first workshop on Space Science Opportunities Augmented by Exploration Telepresence (October 3-7, 2016) was designed to:
- initiate a discussion of the penalties imposed on telerobotic scientific research on planetary surfaces by long communication delays (high latency) and limited information flow (low bandwidth); and
- imagine new telerobotic research modalities that feature the use of low-latency, high-bandwidth strategies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of telerobotic science.
Much of the first workshop explored how planetary field science has been done in the past, what recent advances have been made in low-latency telerobotics in other domains (e.g., surgery), and what kinds of planetary surface science might most benefit from low-latency, high-bandwidth science by telepresence (SBT). SBT may be particularly advantageous for three kinds of planetary field science.
- It may be the only way to do the highest-quality field science in environments which are so extreme that presently available technology will not offer suitable protection for on-site astronauts.
- It may be necessary to do research on transient events (e.g., cryovolcanic eruptions, or atmospheric phenomena such as dust devils), the timescales of which preclude effective study by high-latency telerobotics.
- SBT may permit more effective teleoperation of multiple, geographically distributed robotic assets on a planetary surface, enabling rapid, large-scale reconnaissance which could guide more detailed future research.
In this second workshop, we will focus on the conceptualization of specific research projects that would address existing knowledge gaps regarding the development of advanced telerobotic assets and science operations protocols specifically for SBT. Building on these concepts, were expect to identify opportunities for SBT investment from NASA and other key governmental and private stakeholders. Ultimately, our final report will outline the value of SBT and recommend strategies for its use to enhance planetary field science.