For two weeks, a team of scientists and engineers will conduct Mars analog testing in Rio Tinto Spain under NASA’s Moon and Mars Analog Missions Activities (MMAMA) Project. The MMAMA project involves multiple field campaigns to gather scientific data from moon and Mars analog sites on Earth and develop technologies for future exploration of the moon and Mars. For this field campaign, engineers at NASA Ames designed a mock lander which carries Honeybee Robotics’ 1 meter sampling drill and Centro de Astrobiologia’s (CAB) Signs of Life Detector (SOLID).
This week, we visited CAB located at Spain’s space agency, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial in Madrid, Spain to check equipment, pack for travel to Rio Tinto, and meet researchers. The team traveled to the town of Nerva near the Rio Tinto mines in southwestern Spain to set up the test site. The following link is a video of the test site setup: Rio Tinto Setup
Over the last few days, Zoe has made an ambitious push to visit all of its remaining objective locations. Zoe has driven to nearly every location despite our field testing being delayed.
We are also getting our fill of manual labor in the Atacama. The field team has dug 80 cm holes at each of Zoe’s locations along with a few others to collect additional terrain samples for the science team. We made sure to document our efforts.
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to tour the telescopes at the top of Cerro Paranal. Cerro Paranal is one of the most advanced observatories in the world. We witnessed one of the Very Large Telescope’s 8.2 meter diameter mirrors move into position to prepare for nighttime astronomical viewing. Several astronomers were even kind enough to show and explain their work as we toured through their offices. For more information about the telescopes at Paranal Observaroty, see this link: Very Large Telescope.
Today marks the end of the LITA 2015 Field Campaign. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the LITA project, and it was a pleasure to work with everyone on the field team.