Sample Positioning System for the Mars Science Laboratory recognized as the top robotic Data Collection Platform innovation of 2013
Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation today announced it has been awarded a Robotics Business Review 2013 Game Changer Award for the Sample Manipulation System it developed for the Mars Science Laboratory. The award, which recognizes the integral role of Honeybee’s system in discovering organic compounds and a formerly hospitable environment on Mars, was chosen by a panel of experts from the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, members of the robotic business and research communities, and Robotics Business Review and Robotics Trends editors.
The Sample Manipulation System (SMS) is the central mechanism of the Mars Science Laboratory’s Sample Analysis at Mars suite of instruments, the Curiosity rover’s primary scientific payload. It solves a core challenge of next-generation planetary exploration: how to analyze samples for water, organics and resources with multiple remote instruments when humans are millions of kilometers away. The carousel mechanism of the SMS acts as a “robotic laboratory assistant,” transporting samples of rock or dirt to one of three on-board instruments: a Tunable Laser Spectrometer, a Mass Spectrometer and a Gas Chromatograph. Since beginning operations in 2012, SMS has helped researchers discover signs of a formerly habitable environment on Mars.
Honeybee received the award at a ceremony held at the RoboBusiness Summit in Santa Clara, CA. After landing in August 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory is currently traveling toward the base of Mount Sharp to explore geological formations.
Honeybee continues to provide operational support to NASA for operation of the SMS, as well as its second contribution to the rover Curiosity, the Dust Removal Tool (DRT). The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is providing regular mission updates at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.