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AMASE blog - August 6: Athena (FIDO) rocks!

Status Report From: AMASE 2009
Posted: Monday, August 10, 2009

image by Adrienne Kish

The goddess Athena (otherwise known as the FIDO rover) was had her first public appearance on Svalbard today, and in fact as I write this at 11pm the team is still out coaxing Athena into picking up various sizes of rocks and storing them in her sample chambers designed as a prototype for a future Mars sample return. The rover team has done an outstanding job of overcoming some technical difficulties including a temporarily blind robot to get the rover out and doing the science she was built for. The bio team was involved from the side of planetary protection swabbing the sampling areas of the rover both before and after a special cleaning protocol that has been developed over years of AMASE expeditions to remove all biological and organic material from equipment designed to capture environmental samples to test for life and the molecules necessary to support life. The rover sampling areas were swabbed and then analyzed by a suite of instruments and techniques including DNA extractions and tests for the energy molecule of life (ATP), as well as instruments involved in the technology testing aspects of the AMASE expedition including the life marker chip making its field debut in style with fantastic results already.

Tomorrow the newbies on AMASE are taking part in arctic safety classes so we are ready to head out to the hills on field sampling trips. We are also hoping the fog that had us socked in all day today lifts and we can get a better look at the mountains and glaciers around us. We have a lot of work to do before the Lance research vessel arrives on Sunday with the balance of the AMASE team on board, but we are enjoying the scenery and camaraderie of the NyAlesund research outpost in the meanwhile.

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