Project METERON (the Multipurpose EndTo-End Robotic Operations Network) was initiated in response to a call to start using the ISS as a test bed for future space human exploration made at the IAC congress in Glasgow (2008) in a plenary session.
Two and a half years later, METERON  is proposed by the ESA Human Spaceflight and Operations (D/HSO) and Technical and Quality Management (D/TEC) directorates as an international collaboration between ESA, NASA (University of Colorado), Roskosmos and DLR. It intends to use the ISS as a test bed to simulate an orbiter around another heavenly body (for example Mars), under directives from Mission Control on Earth. Astronauts on the orbiter will project their human initiative and instinct, in real-time, onto the surface of the heavenly body (simulated by an analog site on the Earth) through robotic device(s) to perform science or engineering tasks. This type of real-time control is not possible directly from Earth due to the One Way Light Time delay in communications.
The overall goal of METERON is to set up a simulation environment to allow ground controllers in a Control Centre or astronauts on ISS to be able to simulate robotic exploration scenarios tele-operating a robot located on the ground through the ISS environment.
METERON has three primary goals relating to the domains of operations, robotics and communications respectively:
- To act as a test-bed, providing end-to-end in-orbit demonstration of potential future exploration operations scenarios involving robots and humans (Operations).
- To validate the concept of real-time two-way control of a robot on a planetary surface, from a zero-gravity platform such as a manned orbiter, by human operators with force- and stereo-vision feedback (Robotics).
- To perform further in-orbit testing and validation of novel communication techniques, such as Disruption Tolerant Network (DTN) concepts and technologies (Communications).
Several space agencies and institutions work together to achieve these goals, including ESA, NASA, ROSKOSMOS, ESOC, CU-Boulder and BUSOC.
B.USOC tasks and responsibilities vary along the project phases , and focus on operational and ground support of activities conducted onboard ISS.
- Support from early payload development onwards
- Experiment/payload preparation (operations concept with PD and PI, operators training...)
- Operations products development & validation (PODF, PR…)
- G22 operations document (IIOP, EST, MOIC…)
- ground segment (design & support)
- ground model management
- operations execution & support
|Past and current developments in human flight operations for planetary exploration||C. Muller, N. This, D. Moreau||read|