At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, I worked directly with mission leaders and lead robot engineers to create images that showed the robots or spacecraft in their full operational capacity. Functional design concepts I developed alongside engineers were integrated into the pieces. The images were used for mission proposals, to gain project funding, for client presentations and public outreach. They were presented to JPL mission teams, outside contractees, open house visitors, and at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC.
Robosimian is JPL's entry into the DARPA Robotics Challenge. With 6 degrees of freedom in each of its limbs, extremely powerful motors in all of its L joints, and three sets of stereo cameras, it has massive potential to become a valuable asset in a disaster situation. In my illustration, Robosimian is manipulating the gas valve of a broken and burning line inside of a collapsed nuclear reactor, a situation similar to that of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Aquasimian is an aquatic variant of Robosimian. With its 4 sets of propellers, it is able to move forward, back, up and down, as well as adjust its pitch, yaw, and roll. It retains Robosimian's 6 degrees of freedom, massive strength, and 3 sets of stereo cameras. It is pictured here repairing a deep sea oil well. Today's current aquatic disaster robots are painfully incapable, as the world saw during the terrible Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Surrogate was another approach that JPL explored for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, replacing Robosimian's lower limbs with tracks. It is pictured here dealing with and measuring unknown chemicals in an environment that could potentially be highly dangerous for a human to enter.
IRIS is a robot that JPL is developing to maneuver in Zero Gravity environments. In this image, two IRIS robots navigate the exterior of a Mars orbiting spacecraft. Its feet can stick and un-stick to and from smooth surfaces with a technology (real and functioning) that works using the Van Der Waals force, where, just as on a gecko's foot, millions of tiny hairs become so physically close to a surface that they form a molecular attraction.
Lunar Flashlight is a mission currently under development at JPL. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered what could be frozen water in the centers of PSRs, or permanently shadowed regions on Earth's Moon. These PSRs reside in craters on the south pole of the Moon, and have not see sunlight for millions if not billions of years. The Lunar Flashlight is a cube satellite that will orbit at perilune, 20km above the surface. It is equipped with a powerful infrared laser that will bounce light back from the PSRs and be able to determine the surface’s content. The images show what the mission would entail, are scientifically and technically accurate based on the feedback of the mission leader, and were used in a presentation to NASA Headquarters in Washington DC.
All contents of "NASA JPL" projects copywrite © NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
All contents excluding the "NASA JPL" projects copywrite © Noel Ekker