Using Remote Rover-Driven Methodology to Conduct Fieldwork on the Moon: Lessons Learned from Mars
To test methodology, no rover mock-up or science instruments were used. Instead, at each site we broke down observational "days" into detailed analysis of three targets of interest (drive time was ignored). Images mimicking a multispectral high-resolution stereo imager and a handlens-scale imager were taken using a professional SLR digital camera with interchangeable lens capability and megapixel imaging, coupled with a macro lens. Following data collection and analysis, the field team examined each site using traditional terrestrial field methods, facilitating comparison between what was revealed by human versus rover-inspired methods.
Preliminary results show that the benefits of the handlens as a convenient, effective triage tool are unavailable using current rover-driven methodology because handlens-type imagers cannot be deployed or used frequently. As such, it may be more effective to pursue ways to increase the number of handlens-scale images that can reasonably be taken and downlinked by a lunar rover. Also, characteristics diagnostic of the origin or evolution of a site must be plentiful and obvious for current methodology to be fully effective. More images at intermediate-scales would provide crucial contextual information in this regard. Future lunar rover missions might include dedicated rapid, low-power targeting imagers, or explicitly design field methods around the use of navigational instruments as lower-power options for targeting.