xTerramechanics: Integrated Simulation of Planetary Surface Missions

June 20-24, 2011
California Institute of Technology - Pasadena, CA 91125

Final Report

Workshop Overview:

xTerramechanics is a discipline that entails the study and modeling of interactions between spacecraft and extraterrestrial geomaterials, such as the canonical case of NASA rovers driving on Mars soil. This KISS study will bring together key technical experts from across the U.S. to advance the study of such surface interactions, deepening our understanding of key mission life-cycle processes: formulation trades, design, mission operations, and in-situ science context and integration. The results of this study will be enabling for many future missions in our solar system.

Rapid "virtual prototyping" of mobility and sampling concepts will aide in exploration of radically new surface-system trade-spaces, development of new project implementations, and optimization of mission operations. These advancements will be made possible by recent cross-disciplinary developments such as innovations in granular media simulation, Discrete-Element-Modeling (DEM) and nonlinear Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of soil/regolith, utilization of enormous increases in computational capability, and the development of dynamic Multi-Body Simulation (MBS) software: all opening the door to full physics-based modeling of planetary hardware systems (e.g. mobility platforms, sampling devices, and construction platforms) interacting with natural bodies (e.g., asteroids, comets, moons). These critical developments are at the intersection of geo and planetary sciences, physics, and mechanics.

Our goal is to spur innovation in a new multi-scale, multi-domain modeling framework that encompasses this intersection, from small-scale granular physics and contact mechanics to large-scale spacecraft dynamics. Developing, combining, and integrating MBS software with modern non-linear FEA and DEM subroutines will eventually allow for the development of system and environmental models with fully analytical or physics-based characteristics. Experimental measurements will be incorporated into these processes to produce a validated, end-to-end integrated modeling and simulation environment and a validated, ground-based robotic systems testbed. These breakthrough developments will engender optimal and well understood system trades, resulting in more successful and revolutionary types of NASA planetary missions with enhanced science return, and increased return on investment and cost control.

Workshop Participants:

  • Rob O. Ambrose - NASA-JSC
  • Bob C. Anderson - JPL
  • Jose E Andrade - California Institute of Technology
  • Dimi S Apostolopoulos - Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ray E Arvidson - Washington University in Saint Louis
  • Carlos Avila - California Institute of Technology
  • Josette Bellan - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Paola Bellutta - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Don B Bickler - Jet Propulsion Lab
  • Joel Burdick - California Institute of Technology
  • Liqun Chi - Caterpillar Inc.
  • Colin M Creager - NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Yang Ding - Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Dan I Goldman - Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Melany Hunt - California Institute of Technology
  • Karl Iagnemma - MIT
  • Jerry B Johnson - University of Alaska-Fairbanks
  • Nadia Lapusta - Caltech
  • Keng-Wit Lim - Caltech
  • Randy A Lindemann - JPL
  • Jaret Matthews - JPL
  • Scott J Moreland - Carnegie Mellon University
  • Rudra M Mukherjee - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Lee D Peterson - JPL
  • Gill A. Pratt - DARPA
  • Amy L Rechenmacher - University of Southern California
  • Carmine Senatore - MIT
  • Chris Skonieczny - Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ashley Stroupe - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Brian P. Trease - NASA JPL
  • Ivan Vlahinić - California Institute of Technology
  • Brian H. Wilcox - JPL

Short Course Presentations

Ray Arvidson
Washington University

Remote Sensing of Mars: Focus on Relevance to Terramechanics
(7.8 MB .pdf)

Robert C. Anderson

Mars Surface Analogues on Earth - Mechanical Properties of Regoilth

José Andrade

Intro to Soil Mechanics: The What, Why and How
(5.7 MB .pdf)

Karl Iagnemma

Surface Interaction Modeling: Engineering Methods
(11.5 MB .pdf)

Workshop Presentations

Raymond Arvidson
Washington University

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Keynote: Planetary Terramechanics Big Picture - Phoenix and MER Case Studies
(27.5 MB .pdf)

J. Grotzinger

Mars Science Laboratory: Mission Perspective
(3.5 MB .pdf)

Gentry Lee

Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022
(2.7 MB .pdf)

Amy Rechenmacher

Soil Mechanics: Limitations and Future Directions
(12.6 MB .pdf)

Karl Iagnemma

Fundamentals of Terramechanics: History and Limitations
(7.6 MB .pdf)

Arvidson, et al.

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity Terramechanics Across Ripple-covered Bedrock in Meridiani Planum
(2.7 MB .pdf)

Carlos Avila
José Andrade


Multiscale Modeling of Granular Matter on Earth
(13.7 MB .pdf)

Liqun Chi

FEA Based Method for Modeling Machine/Ground Interaction
(2 MB .pdf)

Jerry Johnson

The Discrete Element Method and Its Use in Physical Modeling
(7.1 MB .pdf)

Josette Bellan

From Microscalesto Macroscales: Fundamental Modeling and Simulations of Granular Media
(523 KB .pdf)

José Andrade

Multiscale Characterization and Modeling of Granular Matter
(13 MB .pdf)

Randy Lindemann

Broader Interests and Applications
(18 MB .pdf)

  • Sample Handling
  • Mobility
  • Terra-forming

Lee Peterson

Quantification of Margins and Uncertainties (QMU): Turning Models and Test Data into Mission Confidence
(2.4 MB .pdf)