Apr 23, 2011

WLS Team at Rio Tinto!

The Rio Tinto Mission was successful and a great experience to test WLS equipment and operations. Andrea and Carmen stayed in Rio Tinto between the 17 and 20 of April. Vasco stayed for 18 and 19. We had rain for the entire 19, and for the major part of the 20; the rain caused problems and delays to the simulation, and required us to cover the Lander mockup for most of the time. The guys from the Austrian Space Forum were really nice with us, and offered us equipment and support as soon as their busy schedule allowed them. During the 18, we had the chance to perform some tests using the Phileas rover with our camera onboard. Maarten came on 19: given the rain, we moved the Lander under a tent, and we filmed an interview with him. On the next day, even if Martin was working for Discovery Channel, he took some time to film our operations with the Dignity rover and the involvement of the WLS Lander during a simulated EVA.

Despite the problems caused by the broken glass of the camera, the resulting images from the tests offer a good idea of what the final result could be. We shoot various test pictures, and then we shoot a sequence with the camera at various distances from the Lander (1m, 5m, 10m, 15m, 20m, 30m and 40m). The Lander can be used as a landmark up to 40 meters: at this distance, even with the plastic cover, the metallic features of the Landers are still detectable with naked eye in the picture, and could be easily enhanced with image processing.
We shoot a 5 minute movie while moving the Phileas rover around. The rover was damaged during transportation to Rio Tinto, and so we were not able to move on its own wheels. Fortunately we had the permission to carry it around by pulling it with a tether.
On the April 20 we were allowed to use the Dignity rover to test a damage inspection scenario around the Lander. The dignity rover is similar, in size and dimension, to the White Label Space. So we performed damage inspection, exploration of the surrounding and sample manipulation. The operations were executed using the remote control in proximity of the rover. We also performed some remote manipulation from the Control Center using the rover camera: unfortunately the system was experiencing interferences and bandwidth problems, and so we were not able to perform safely remote movement.
The Lander was also used by the Austrian Space Forum for a damage inspection performed by the suited astronaut. The entire sequence was filmed by the media present.

The following video is from our test with the Lander and Dignity rover inspection, simulating the first minutes of operation of the rover after landing.

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