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One-Meter Class Drilling for Planetary Exploration

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2009 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Honeybee Robotics
460 West 34th Street New York, NY 10001-
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2009
Title: One-Meter Class Drilling for Planetary Exploration
Agency: NASA
Contract: NNX09CA89C
Award Amount: $599,683.00


Robotic planetary exploration missions will need to perform in-situ analysis of rock and/or regolith samples or returning samples back to earth. Obtaining and delivering a sample can be a complex engineering problem, especially if it's done autonomously thousands of miles away. To accommodate future missions, these subsurface access and sample handling technologies must be developed to meet a broad range of potential requirements, including a variety of rock or subsurface materials, rigorous sample preservation requirements, and the general problem of autonomous operation in the presence of dust and with limited resources. The one-to-three meter range has been identified as a critical regime for planetary exploration and while there has been some technology development in this regime, there is currently no proven flight-like approach to robotically achieving this depth through layers of challenging material from realistic roving or landed platforms. The Phase 1 research has resulted in proving the benefits of rotary-percussive drilling system as it pertains to breaking of formation and cuttings transport. The primary objective of the proposed effort is to develop, via testing in a simulated Mars environment, a breadboard one-meter sampling drilling system for acquiring a small volume of drilled cuttings and a core (if necessary) from a target depth on Mars. This project would build on the existing knowledge base of Mars drilling, and its particular strength lies with its capability of performing drilling tests under simulated Martian conditions of temperature and pressure and CO2 atmosphere. This is a component technology effort that includes the development of a rotary percussive drill head and a sampling lead drill string. Honeybee Robotics will leverage drill head development by utilizing voice coil percussive actuator technology developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the Mars Science Laboratory Powder Drill.

Principal Investigator:

Kris Zacny
Principal Investigator

Business Contact:

Chris Chapman
Small Business Information at Submission:

Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W 34th Street New York, NY 10001

EIN/Tax ID: 880193033
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No