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If you want humanity to explore the Solar System, you have to test the systems you plan to use for moving around and living. And where is there a readily available harsh environment for such testing? Arizona. In the Summer it is hot and dry. In the Winter it is cold and dry (or wet, depending on the state of the Arctic storm systems).
Currently underway (31 August through 15 September) is the 13th iteration of the Desert RATS program. You can follow their exploits on the RATS’ Blog.
RATS site in Northern Arizona
Image Credit: NASA
NASA Athlete Vehicle
Image Credit: NASA
Portable Utility Pallets, or PUPs for short – mobile charging stations for equipment
A suite of new geology sample collection tools, including a self-contained GeoLab glove box (pdf) for conducting in-field analysis of various collected rock samples.
During this mission, there will be four crew members living in the two rovers. Their traverse routes will include driving up and down steep slopes and over rough terrain at various speeds. The crew will also demonstrate docking and undocking with the PUPs and the habitat. Other objectives for the rovers include demonstrating the differences in productivity for crew members and their ground support that come with different communication methods, and evaluating different operational concepts for the trips the rovers make.
Let us know what you think. What do you want to know about? Post a comment.