Copyright © 2007 Ned Chapin. Published by the Mars Society with permission.
INTEGRATION TO INCREASE THE RETURN
FROM MARS EXPLORATION MISSIONS
Ned Chapin, Ph.D.
Information Systems Consultant
InfoSci Inc., Box 7117
Menlo Park CA 94026-7117, USA
While the number one goal of a human crewed Mars exploration mission may well be to assure the health and safety of the human crew, the number two goal is most probably to return to Earth a lot of knowledge about Mars, i.e., data. Such data acquisition has been simulated in part by activities done at The Mars SocietyŐs analog research stations. The crew members on actual Mars missions will be applying their expertises in multiple science disciplines, and combining their observations and insights with already known data about Mars, and with the data gathered on-site by the use of tools and automated aids, such as rovers. Even here on Earth, each source, discipline, tool, and aid used tends to acquire, generate, or provide data in forms and media that are often cumbersome and incompatible. On Mars (itŐs paperless), such characteristics will be costly. For example, a geologist and a biologist describe differently in data terms what they observe, even when they are both observing the same entity at the same time, such as an oddly colored rock. Usually, their choices for data representation result in needing to use different data-handling equipment. This report sketches some of the ways on Mars exploration missions that the integration of the data at its origination or capture can be done. These ways facilitate rather than hinder the varied work of the scientists in their various disciplines thus making them more productive, reduce the weight and volume of equipment and supplies taken to and from Mars, and improve operational simplicity on Mars. The net result can be more and better quality data about Mars returned to Earth by crewed Mars missions.
Keywords: Data from missions, improving science data, acquiring data on Mars, information systems use on Mars, analog research station, paperless operations