Data Collection in Svalbard, Norway to Test the use of Virtual Reality for Lunar and Planetary Surface Exploration

Date

2023-07-16

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems

Abstract

As part of MIT's work with the Resource Exploration and Science of our Cosmic Environment (RESOURCE) project with NASA Ames and the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute we are testing both the scientific and operational usefulness of a virtual reality environment for local, small-scale (< 5 m) geological analysis for Lunar and planetary surface exploration missions. Specifically, we are testing a virtual reality (VR) environment developed using a low-cost commercial off-the-shelf combination LiDAR/RGB camera for geological exploration. We incorporate local environmental data such as temperature, luminosity, humidity, and wind. The data was collected in Svalbard, Norway, from three locations near Longyearbyen. The sites were selected based on their distinct geological features including 1) a riverbed in a glacially carved valley (<10 cm-scale features), 2) the base of a recent glacial retreat (last 100 years, 10-50 cm) and 3) a permafrost feature (>1 m). This data is rendered in VR and will be used to assess scientist's abilities to answer questions about the relevant local geology for differing feature scales (<10 cm, 10-50 cm and >1 m). The VR environment will be compared to a traditional desktop application in 2-dimensions and geological field notes taken on an app developed by the University of Western Ontario for geological field work. Here we discuss the data collection techniques used in Svalbard as well as the lessons learned from this field work. Data processing techniques are presented, as well as the final VR rendering capabilities developed for this work. The low cost of the technologies provides an opportunity to develop immersive environments not only for Lunar and planetary surface exploration, but also for remote or environmentally sensitive locations on Earth where research is lacking and human presence should be minimized.

Description

Cody Paige, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), USA
Don Derek Haddad, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), USA
Ferrous Ward, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), USA
Jessica Todd, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), USA
Gordon R. Osinski, University of Western Ontario, USA
Ariel Ekblaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), USA
Dava Newman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), USA
ICES506: Human Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit: Missions and Technologies
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.

Keywords

virtual reality, ISRU, geologic surface exploration, Moon surface exploration, Mars surface exploration

Citation