Haughton Mars Project (HMP): Sea-Ice Traverse

From 5 – 8 May 2010, the Mars Institute’s Dr Pascal Lee and his teammates Joe Amarualik, John W. Schutt, Jesse Weaver, Jean-Christophe Jeauffre, and Mark Carroll will be completing the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition. They will be journeying from Resolute Bay, Cornwallis Island, to the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station, Devon Island, High Arctic, aboard the Moon-1 Humvee Rover, a simulator for future pressurized rovers that will be used in long distance human exploration on the Moon and Mars.

Follow their scientific odyssey here as they drive a final 200 km across the Arctic, including the critical 35 km stretch of rough sea-ice separating Cornwallis Island from Devon Island.

For more information and to follow this awesome journey, check out the following sites: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmpresearchstation/



Amanda Knight
By Amanda Knight
Analog Technical Liaison Support for EPO NASA/JSC

The 2010 Field Testing Season Begins!

Hello Blogosphere! 



Rocky Lind   
Information and Communications Coordinator   
at NASA Headquarters   

If you are reading this Blog, then you have an interest in what NASA is doing in preparation for sending humans into deep space to explore, work and live. 

Throughout the North American continent and beyond, we have teams conducting what are called “analog field tests.”  The simple definition of the word analog is “something similar or relating to,” which means we are testing in locations that we have found to be similar or related to the surfaces we expect to encounter on other planets or asteroids.

Believe it or not, this testing has been around since the Apollo days and now we are taking it to the next level.

Analogs mapWe have teams testing and training next generation vehicles and life systems in the arctic deserts and lakes of Canada; deep beneath the surface of the ocean near the Florida Keys; on the side of a dormant volcano in Hawaii; and in the dry, dusty deserts of Arizona.  Read more about the teams at https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/analogs/.  

Each team has a different mission profile but they are all working to better prepare for long-duration spaceflight and long-term stays on surfaces remote and distant from Mother Earth.

Our goal is to give you a close and personal look at each of these tests as they happen and help you connect the dots in what we think is a pretty cool story.  From time to time, different members of different teams will post here so don’t be surprised to see a post from an engineer on the side of a volcano followed by a post from an educator in the desert where we test rovers.  It could be any of us!

The first analog field test of 2010 began on May 1 with the Sea Ice Traverse.  The test is being conducted at Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island, Canada. The high arctic outpost is on the world’s largest uninhabited island. The team faces a challenging journey across 200 km of frigid, snow-covered arctic barrens, including the critical 35 km crossing of rough sea-ice filling the Wellington Channel. 

That’s it for now.  More posts to come (and a few below from our previous Desert RATs blog) and plenty more ways of keeping up with our teams at https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/analogs/.

What are dry runs and why are they an important part of Desert RATS?

Dry runs are  a critical aspect of any Desert RATS analog field test.  After the objectives of this years field test were established, each team went to work on their aspect of the project.  Engineers created solutions such as PUP, the Portable Utility Pallet.  This device has stowage space, geological evaluation tools, and even a wireless mesh network repeater.  As the field test approaches, each subsytem needs to be fully tested and evaluated.  Sometimes this is as simple as a functionality test, however it can expand into finding ways to improve durability, usability, and even things such as ergonomics.

Changes have also been made based on lessons learned from previous outings.  The new automated suit ports will simplify exiting LER.  Software such as the navigation system have been overhauled for ease of use and increased functionality.

In the end the goal is a successful analog field test.  This goal can only be met by insuring each subsystem has been integrated and tested.  Desert RATS is about working together to achieve a goal that is unreachable independent of each other.  Valuable lessons are learned here on Earth so that these systems are ready for the missions of the future.The Desert RATS is a NASA-led team of research partners working together to prepare for human-robotic exploration. This “working group,” led by NASA personnel, is comprised of both NASA and non-NASA Members.

The Desert RATS field test activity is the culmination of the various individual science and advanced engineering discipline areas year-long technology and operations development efforts into a coordinated field test demonstration under representative (analog) planetary surface terrain conditions. The purpose of the RATS effort is to drive out preliminary exploration operational concepts for EVA system requirements by providing hands-on experience with simulated planetary surface exploration extravehicular activity (EVA) hardware and procedures.

Suit Ports

LER Suit Port

The Lunar Electric Rover (LER) is equipped with a time and space saving concept called suit ports.  The suit ports are located on the aft bulkhead of the LER, and are designed to allow astronauts to quickly go from driving in a shirtsleeve environment to Extravehicular Activity (EVA) in their space suits.  The suit port will allow the crew to enter and exit their EVA suits via a rear-entry hatch, while never having to bring the suit inside, keeping the internal cabin mostly free of dust.  The suit port will also minimize the loss of consumables when it is depressurized for EVA, extending duration of an LER sortie.  The crew uses alignment guides for docking to the suit port, and electromechanical mechanisms to lock and unlock the suit in place and also to open and close hatches.  This is an upgrade from last year’s suit port concept that used all mechanically-actuated mechanisms with levers that the crew had to move.  This suit port concept also includes an environmental shelter for the suits that will protect them from dust, thermal extremes, and micrometeoroid protection.