Participants of the PISCES 2015 Summer Internship Program are seen here during a presentation on their research on Aug. 7. 

Several university students recently sang the praises of the 2015 Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems summer internship program.

From analyzing life in Big Island caves to developing a navigation program for the Helelani planetary rover, interns described how they used their skills and talents during a presentation of the 10-week program on Friday.

This year’s interns included Theodore DeRego, Ernesto Esparaza, Colin Milovsoroff, Valerie Wasser, and Karlin Yeh.

Also present was PISCES project leader Casey Pearring, and volunteers Eric Bouchet, Nicollet Thomas and Larissa Belcic, a master’s candidate from Harvard University.

The interns were separated into two groups, one for site characterization and another focusing on robotics.

PISCES Project Manager Rodrigo Romo led the robotic interns and PISCES Test Logistics/EPO Manager John Hamilton oversaw the team that surveyed planetary analogue test sites on Hawaii Island.

Romo said this was his second year of working with the summer interns and he was pleased to see the projects evolve with the students.

During the summer, robotic specialists DeRego, Esparza, Pearring, and Yeh assisted Romo with outfitting the Helelani planetary rover with three integrated mechanical systems that will enable the rover to execute the basalt landing pad construction project (ACME). The system involves a leveling blade, polymer spray system, and Paver Deployment Mechanism and sintering technology.

The interns also worked on time delay emulation hardware that is needed for all planetary rovers.  The hardware mimics the time delay that exists between the Earth and the Moon, or the Earth and Mars.

“When anyone wants to test hardware or software to the Moon or Mars, they have to test it on time delay conditions,” Romo explained.

Milovsoroff, Wasser, Thomas and Bouchet were the interns and volunteers focusing on site characterization. They traveled to Kaumana Caves and Kula Kai Caverns, along with various other locations to help identify new skylights, lava tubes, and other sites that could serve as useful planetary analogous for pre-spaceflight testing.

The students also collected information at each site and hope to build a database from their research to be used by future studies.