Copyright © 2008 Ned Chapin. Published by the Mars Society with permission.
DESIGN AND ROBOTICS TO REDUCE CHORE TIME ON MARS
Ned Chapin, Ph.D.
Information Systems Consultant
InfoSci Inc., Box 7117
Menlo Park CA 94026-7117, USA
Some of the logs and reports from the crews thus far at the Mars Society's research stations have mostly skipped over it, and some have covered a common topic explicitly. That common topic is the time spent of necessity out of “sim” outdoors together with the personnel time spent doing chores outdoors and indoors. Taken together, those times when added to the time for human biological functions (such as sleeping, eating, etc.) reduce the time that can be devoted to research and exploration (“possible productive time”). Some improvements in productive time will be attained on Mars because Mars will be paperless, even though thus far, the research stations have not moved to going paperless. More than offsetting that improvement on Mars, however, will be additional chores time devoted to dust mitigation and to assuring life support integrity. And on Mars, personnel time spent in the equivalent of “out of sim” outdoors will be impossible. Hence, a realistic practical concern is how to increase the on Mars productive time while not reducing the time devoted to human biological functions.
Clearly, main solution directions have to target reducing the personnel time devoted to chores. A review of the logs and reports from the Mars research stations suggests two directions for action. One affects the design of the enclosures occupied by the personnel (habitat, rover, etc.) to eliminate the need for chores, and the other suggests the use of robots to do the more time consuming chores not eliminated by the adopted design of the enclosures. Because life support will be so critical for the on Mars personnel, six examples of leading candidate topics could be power creation and use, in-enclosure atmosphere management and maintenance, potable water supply and management, waste disposal processes, Mars suit cleaning, and restocking the rover with consumables.
Keywords: doing science on Mars, infrastructure chores, chores reduction, Mars information system, automating chores, robotic chores, paperless operations