TREX Team celebrates successful first field season!

After a one-and-one-half-year delay and years of planning and preparation, the TREX team – led by PSI Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix – come together in Flagstaff, Arizona to conduct field testing of multiple scientific instruments, including cameras, as the project contributes knowledge to prepare for future human exploration of the Moon and other places in the Solar System. The instruments, mounted atop the autonomous rover Zoë, built and managed by TREX partners from Carnegie Mellon (led by David Wettergreen), measured rocks and soils at different wavelengths of light to learn about their composition. 

Field work took place from Nov. 1 through Nov. 13, 2021 at two geologically interesting sites in Northern Arizona, one 45 minutes north of Flagstaff and the other outside Tuba City, Arizona. 

The work was conducted by the 14 person TREX field team made up of PSI scientists Eldar Noe Dobrea, Shawn Wright, Neil Pearson, George Kramer and Sanlyn Buxner, and collaborators from Carnegie Mellon, University of Colorado, Northern Arizona University, the Jet Propulsion Lab and Arizona State University along with the seven person TREX science team made up of PSI scientists Tom Prettyman, Roger Clark, Faith Vilas, PSI alumni scientists Maria Banks from Goddard Space Flight Center and Melissa Lane from Fibernetics, Inc. and additional collaborators from Goddard Space Flight Center and Northern Arizona University. 

Each day the science team sent commands to the rover team who moved the rover to the sites and collected data and sent it back to the science team for analysis. The team enacted multiple scenarios at each site to test not only the scientific instruments but also software for the robot to autonomously traverse different paths for data collection and is utilizing an “astronaut” to assist in data collection. The data collected during the different robot traverses is be used to build geologic maps of the regions and will test the efficiency of the different scenarios and data collection techniques.