TREX Field Team Celebrates Second Field Season

The field work, completed in October 2022 was completed by the 14 person TREX field team made up of PSI scientists Eldar Noe Dobrea, Neil Pearson, Amanda Hendrix, Roger Clark, and Sanlyn Buxner, and collaborators David Wettergreen, Maggie Hansen, Abby Breitfeld, Srini Vijayarangan from Carnegie Mellon University, Greg Holsclaw and Amanda Steckel from the University of Colorado, Melissa Lane from Fibernetics, Inc., Ernie Bell from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and Gregg Swayze who is retired from USGS. Embedded with the field team was professional artist Lisa Blatt.

In addition to the field team was the TREX science team, led by PSI scientist Tom Prettyman and included PSI scientist Faith Vilas, SSI scientist Mikki Osterloo, post-doctoral researchers Caitlin Ahrens from Goddard Space Flight Center, Audrey Martin from University of Central Florida, and Paul Knightly from Northern Arizona University, as well as graduate students Ruby Patterson (University of Houston), Nandita Kumari (Stony Brook University), McKayla Meier (University of Idaho), and PSI alumni scientist Maria Banks from Goddard Space Flight Center.

The TREX team tested three different scenarios over two weeks to test scientific automation in the field with the support of an autonomous rover.  Each day, the field team collected images and other scientific data and relayed them back to the science team for analysis. In the last scenario, Zoë was be accompanied by “astronauts” Maria Banks and Ernie Bell to assist in data collection. The collected data are being used to build geologic maps of the region and tested the efficiency of the different scenarios and data collection techniques. In two of the scenarios, the robot decides its own path using the collected data, the goal being to increase the knowledge (decrease the uncertainty) of its geologic map.