To see what life might be like on a distant planet, reporters need only travel to the Arizona desert. NASA's Research and Technology Studies, or Desert RATS, will make its 13th trip to the desert this fall to test rovers, habitats and robots that could be used in future exploration missions.
A media day for the tests will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15, to allow reporters to observe the activities. Interested news media should contact Brandi Dean at 281-483-5111 by Thursday, Sept. 9. Access to the test site is restricted, so media must be pre-registered. NASA also requires a letter of assignment on company letterhead for credentials.
The desert tests offer a chance for a NASA-led team of engineers, astronauts and scientists from across the country to test concepts for future missions. The location offers a good test area for future destinations of exploration missions.
NASA will demonstrate a variety of hardware during this year's test,
-- Space Exploration Vehicles: two rovers astronauts could live in forseven days at a time.
-- Habitat Demonstration Unit/Pressurized Excursion Module: asimulated habitat where the rovers can dock to allow the crew room to perform experiments or deal with medical issues.
-- All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorers: two heavy-liftrover platforms that allow the habitat, or other large items, to go where the action is.
-- Portable Communications Terminal: a rapidly deployablecommunications station.
-- Centaur 2: a possible four-wheeled transportation method for NASARobonaut 2.
-- Portable Utility Pallets: mobile charging stations for equipment.
-- A suite of new geology sample collection tools, including aself-contained GeoLab glove box for conducting in-field analysis of various collected rock samples.
The public was involved in test preparation by helping NASA decide what areas should be explored. NASA posted online several possibilities online and allowed members of the public to vote on the most promising. Several thousand ballots were cast and 67 percent favored a location that appeared to be home of several overlapping lava flows.
NASA centers involved in the Desert RATS tests include Johnson Space Center in Houston; Langley Research Center in Va.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Research Center, both in California; Kennedy Space Center, in Florida; Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama; and NASA Headquarters in Washington.
In addition, professors and students from various universities, as well as the Canadian Space Agency, are participating in the Desert RATS field tests.
For more information about NASA's field tests and to follow Desert RATS on various social media sites, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/analogs/desert_rats.html
Follow the Desert RATS tests on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/Desert_RATS