The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world, and it was chosen as the location for the LITA project because its dryness provides a Martian analogue on Earth. Despite the region’s history of little rainfall, rain fell two days before the team arrived in the Atacama. The city of Antofagasta, which is 109 km north of Cerro Paranal, recorded 24 mm of rain total and about 7 years worth of rain in a period of 12 hours. Antofagasta averages 1.7 mm of rain annually. For more information on the rain, see this link: Atacama Rain.
Today, the team drove off-road to several of Zoe’s test locations to determine if the locations were still accessible and if the recent rains would inhibit testing. 1 to 5 cm deep standing water was present near some of the test locations, but not enough to prevent our tests. Soil moisture content readings were taken at the test locations and reported to the science team at NASA Ames.