Voyages of scientific discovery: for more than eight years, scientists have been doing fieldwork on Mars, the first overland investigation of another planet. Working through programmed robotic laboratories, called the Mars Exploration Rovers, they have a virtual experience of being on Mars. The Spirit and Opportunity teams have driven over 25 miles, taken thousands of photographs, analyzed the chemistry of the terrain, and inspected rocks by grinding them and taking microscopic images. How does working remotely through a robotic laboratory change the nature of field science? How does it change the scientists? A cognitive scientist with privileged access to mission operations, Clancey explains that the “robotic geologists” are not the rovers, but the scientists who have imaginatively projected themselves into the body of the machine."
William J. Clancey
Dr. William J. Clancey is Chief Scientist for Human-Centered Computing at NASA Ames Research Center, Computational Sciences Division, where he manages the Work Systems Design & Evaluation Group. He is on leave from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola.
Clancey's research includes work practice modeling, distributed multiagent systems, and the ethnography of field science. Projects in his group include participation in MER mission operations, simulation of a day-in-the-life of the ISS, knowledge management for future launch vehicles, and developing flight systems that make automation more transparent.
Clancey has degrees in Mathematical Sciences (BA, Rice University, 1974) and Computer Science (PhD, Stanford University, 1979). At the Knowledge Systems Laboratory of Stanford University (1974-1987), Clancey developed some of the earliest artificial intelligence programs for explanation, the critiquing method of consultation, tutorial discourse, and student modeling. Prior to joining NASA, he was a founding member of the Institute for Research on Learning (1987-1997) where he co-developed the methods of business anthropology in corporate environments.
William J. Clancey, Chief Scientist of Human-Centered Computing at the Intelligent Systems Division of the NASA Ames Center, talks about the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program. Adjusting to Mars' atmosphere, Clancey shares that the two teams controlling separate rovers even adopted Mars' time schedule.
William J. Clancey, Chief Scientist of Human-Centered Computing at the Intelligent Systems Division of the NASA Ames Center, discusses the lessons learned from the Mars Exploration Rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity", and offers predictions for their latest rover, "Curiosity".
Fourth planet from the Sun, named after the Roman god of war. Its mean distance from the Sun is 228 million km (142 million mi). Its day is 24 hours 37 minutes and its year about 687 Earth days. It has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos. Mars's equatorial diameter is 3,396 km (2,110 mi), about half that of Earth. Its mass is about one-tenth of Earth's and its surface gravity about one-third as strong. No magnetic field has been detected on Mars, suggesting, as does its low density, the absence of a substantial metallic core. Like Earth, it has seasons and an atmosphere, but its average daytime surface temperature is only -10 °F (-20 °C). Mars's thin atmosphere is mainly carbon dioxide, with some nitrogen and argon and traces of water vapour. Spacecraft images show a cratered surface, with volcanoes, lava plains, flood channels, and canyons, many large by Earth standards; Olympus Mons, for example, is the largest known volcano in the solar system. Wind is an important element on Mars, sculpting features such as dunes and occasionally causing global dust storms. In the distant past Mars appears to have had a denser, warmer atmosphere and much more water than at present. Images from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft suggest that some liquid water may have flowed near the planet's surface in relatively recent times. No life has been detected on the planet.