UK Space Agency “Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation 2016” (MURFI 2016): overview of mission, aims and progress

Balme, M. R.; Curtis-Rouse, M. C.; Banham, S.; Barnes, D.; Barnes, R.; Bauer, A.; Bedford, C.; Bridges, J.; Butcher, F. E. G.; Caballo, P.; Caldwell, A.; Coates, A.; Cousins, C.; Davis, J.; Dequaire, J.; Edwards, P.; Fawdon, P.; Furuya, K.; Gadd, M.; Get, P.; Griffiths, A.; Grindrod, P. M.; Gunn, M.; Gupta, S.; Hansen, R.; Harris, J. K.; Holt, J.; Huber, B.; Huntly, C.; Hutchinson, I.; Jackson, L.; Kay, S.; Kybert, S.; Lerman, H. N.; McHugh, M.; McMahon, W.; Muller, J.-P.; Paar, G.; Preston, L. J.; Schwenzer, S.; Stabbins, R.; Tao, Y.; Traxler, C; Turner, S.; Tyler, L.; Venn, S.; Walker, H.; Wright, J. and Yeomans, B. (2017). UK Space Agency “Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation 2016” (MURFI 2016): overview of mission, aims and progress. In: 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 20-24 Mar 2017, Houston.



The Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation “MURFI 2016” is a Mars Rover field analogue mission run by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). MURFI 2016 took place between 22nd October and 13th November 2016 and consisted of a field team including an instrumented Rover platform, at the field site near Hanksville (Utah, USA), and an ‘Operations Team’ based in the Mission Control Centre (MOC) at the Harwell Campus near Oxford in the UK.

The field site was chosen based on the collaboration with the CSA and its Mars-like local geology. It was used by the CSA in 2015 for Mars Rover trials, and in 2016, several teams used the site, each with their own designated working areas.

The two main aims of MURFI 2016 were (i) to develop logistical and leadership experience in running field trials within the UKSA, and (ii) to provide members of the Mars Science community with Rover Operations experience, and hence to build expertise that could be used in the 2020 ExoMars Rover mission, or other future Rover missions. Because MURFI 2016 was the first solely UKSA-led Rover analogue trial, the most important objective was to learn how to best implement Rover trials in general. This included aspects of planning, logistics, field safety, MOC setup and support, communications, person management and science team development. Some aspects were based on past experience from previous trials but the focus was on ‘learning through experience’ - especially in terms of the Operations Team, who each took on a variety of roles during the mission.

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