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Lab Spotlight: NASA Glenn - MADI

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Here, NASA Glenn Research Center Senior Research Engineers Lawrence Greer and Michael Krasowski equip the Mars Lab Aquatic Descent Instrument (MADI) with sensors and imaging equipment customized for a specific mission. MADI is an underwater robotic device fitted with interfaces for sensors and instruments that can be used in both fresh and salt water. (Photo: NASA; Michelle M. Murphy, Wyle Information Systems, LLC)

Under a Space Act Agreement with the Cleveland Police Department, the team at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Mobile and Remote Sensing Lab (MARS) outfits modern robots for other applications for first responders. Currently, they are working on instrumentation for MADI, whose complex operating system allows the robot to send critical data to remote computers for analysis.

“The beauty of MADI is that it can be tailored to meet the needs of any underwater mission,” said Krasowski. “If first responders want to use it, we can fit the robot with metal detectors and sonar imaging equipment to locate underwater evidence in the murky depths of Lake Erie.”

To protect first responders from harm, MADI can dive into the water first and use its specialized sensors to search an underwater scene. Then, if a diver is needed, the diver can follow MADI’s tether down to an area of interest.

Throughout this year, the MARS team has been working with the Cleveland Police and NASA researchers to test and demonstrate MADI’s capabilities.

The MARS team is also working with freshwater research scientists at Glenn to use MADI’s sensors to investigate the health of lakes and streams in the Midwest. Beyond Earth, the team believes MADI could be a research tool on celestial bodies, such as searching for signs of life in the liquid methane lakes of Saturn’s moon, Titan.

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