Space Robotics for In-Situ Resource Utilization: Needs, Challenges, and Approaches

Space Robotics for In-Situ Resource Utilization Needs, Challenges, and Approaches

IROS 2020 Tutorial: October 25-29th, 2020, Las Vegas, NV, USA

Room: TBA

Date: TBA


Experts from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Jet Propulsion Lab will guide participants through concepts and operations of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) space robotics by way of presentations, demonstrations, and mini-tutorials. ISRU is the practice of extracting, processing, and storing useful resources found at a given location. On terrestrial planetary bodies such as the Moon and Mars, ISRU will enable the affordable establishment of space exploration and operations by minimizing the materials carried from Earth and by developing advanced, autonomous devices to optimize the benefits of available in-situ resources such as regolith. Regolith can be used as a building material to construct habitats and landing pads, or processed to extract Oxygen for breathing and rocket propellant, for example. The tutorials follow a theme discussing the needs for ISRU (what it is and proposed life-cycle), mobility (challenges and current approaches), excavation (challenges of digging regolith), and finally autonomy (communication issues and challenges unique to resource-denied environments). The session features a Gazebo-based simulation of a lunar excavator that the participants will install as part of the tutorials.

Program (tentative)

09:00 - 09:10 | Welcome and introduction to the session

09:15 - 09:45 | Presentation: Intro to In-Situ Resource Utilization

09:50 - 10:20 | Coffee/Discussion Break

10:20 - 10:50 | Presentation: Mobility Challenges for Surface Operations

10:55 - 11:25 | Presentation: Excavation

11:30 - 12:00 | Presentation: Autonomy

12:00 - 13:00 | Lunch

13:00 - 14:00 | Intro to the simulation

14:30 - 15:00 | Coffee/Discussion Break

15:30 - 16:00 | Tutorial 1 - Mobility task

16:30 - 17:00 | Tutorial 2 - Architectural task

17:00 - 17:30 | Tutorial 3 - Optional

17:30 | Thank and Close


Michael DuPuis (NASA KSC) - Principal Investigator, Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Kurt Leucht (NASA KSC) - Aerospace Technologist, Command & Control Software

Rob Mueller (NASA KSC) - Senior Technologist, Exploration Research & Technology

Dr. Issa Nesnas (NASA JPL) – Principal Technologist, Robotic Mobility Group


Joe Cloud - University of Texas at Arlington, NASA KSC

Dr. William Beksi - University of Texas at Arlington