Pavillion Lake, Microbialites, DNA and British Columbia

by Joe Russell – PhD student from University of Delaware studying Microbiology

Most days I do science in a bright, cluttered (yet clean), indoor laboratory. Right now, I am sitting on the shore of a pristine lake in British Columbia, waiting for samples of microbialites. Long days and late nights in lab is what you pay the piper for sample collections in beautiful, remote locations.

What I knew of British Columbia was what I saw during the Vancouver Olympics and a handful of nature shows. It was beautiful, with tall mountains, good skiing, and killer whales. What I didn’t know was how diverse and rugged the landscape would be. I flew into Vancouver and drove a rental car up to our field site along with my advisor, Dr. Jen Biddle. We passed through the city into tall snow-capped peaks covered in conifers. Beautiful, but about what I expected for BC. My expectations were quickly dashed. Lush forests spit waterfalls down into the Fraser River. Within an hour or two, the conifers gave way to more rock outcroppings, and eventually huge, sheer cliffs with rocks of all different colors. The vegetation changed to more bristly, desert flora. Winding streams worked their way through distant pastures, dotted with gnarled trees, horses, and cows; eventually all spilling into the Fraser, a constant throughout our drive. As we approached the town of Clinton, our base of operations for this expedition, the conifers returned, although this time in different arrangements. The dense coastal firs, spruces, and hemlocks gave way to more sparse cedars and ponderosa pine forests that populated steep, rocky canyons. Tucked away deep in the folds of these ancient canyons are two very unique and exciting lakes.

Pavilion Lake and Kelly Lake are home to a fantastic display of microbialites. A fun, quirky, inspired (from what I’m beginning to see) group of scientists with a variety of backgrounds have descended on these lakes to study these structures because they may hold answers to some of the most profound questions we can ask. What did some of the earliest life on this planet look like? How did it survive and evolve? The fossil records show that for a couple billion years of our planets history, life existed similarly to how it does on the microbialites of Pavilion and Kelly Lake. If these structures were such an important first step in Earth’s life history, might they also be something to look for when we eventually explore other planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond? As a microbiologist, with a strong interest in astrobiology, these questions floor me. To be here in this beautiful countryside searching for answers is what some refer to as “pinch me” moments.

My role here is to help understand the bacterial communities that live on the surface of the microbialites, and from what we can tell, drive their formation. I have spent the past few days taking part in planning and execution of submersible dives and sample collection. Once samples arrive at base camp, I extensively document what I see. Interesting features such as curious green and purple nodules that may be the site of carbonate formation on the surface of the microbialites are sub-sampled and examined under the microscope. Larger chunks of microbialite are carefully bagged and frozen for shipment back to the lab at the University of Delaware. There, I will extract DNA to study the microbial population of these structures on the genomic level to determine which members of this population are most important at different depths. This study highlights one of the unique attributes of Kelly Lake and Pavilion Lake. Microbialites are found in a handful of places around the globe yet these lakes are the only environment where they are found at such a variety of depths (thus differential access to light). It is our hope that these varying growth environments within the lake will be able to highlight distinct attributes of microbialites that made them so successful on early Earth and could possibly aid their formation on other planetary bodies.

Diving for Microbioliate samples

NEEMO 15 Engineering Tests: Education and Public Outreach

While everyone gets an idea of all of the exciting engineering tests and evaluations going on this week in Key Largo, Fla. for the upcoming NEEMO 15 mission from these daily blogs, not many folks know about what goes on behind the scenes to inform YOU about what’s happening with the day-to-day activities. What it takes to get the word out, what it takes to let you in on the cool tests and evaluations that these hardworking engineers perform undersea and on the ocean floor at the Aquarius habitat, and what it takes to bring the action to you, so you can enjoy it, interact with it, learn from it, and be inspired by it.

One method would be a blog, just like this. Another, perhaps a press release or media advisory or interviews with media outlet, or maybe one of those new fancy social media outlets. Who updates those and answers all of the questions? What about all of those cool photos… who takes them, who organizes them, how are they stored? And let’s not forget about those really awesome live interactive education events! How in the world do you coordinate getting into a classroom full of kids in a remote location, tying in an education specialist at Johnson Space Center, adding a live video feed from a boat out at the Aquarius, talking live with a person at the Aquarius Reef Base Watch Desk, and interactively chatting online at the website where the live video feeds?

How we inform the media or public, how we bring live education events to classrooms, how we document and record the mission, takes more than one person and more than one asset. It takes a team of people located in different centers and some on-site, to know all the technical details of the mission and to be able to follow what is happen throughout the day to entertain, interact with, inspire you.

So, here is an snapshot of our Education and Public Outreach activities that happen on a typical day during our NEEMO mission during our engineering evaluations. We start our day bright and early, with our all-hands meeting with the NEEMO mission manager. From there, we get ready for the rest of outreach activities throughout the day. For example, set up a phone interview with a national media outlet, conduct recorded interviews with subject matter experts for use during live events or in the case of a communication issue during a live event, write a basic script and coordinate and test the communication equipment and phone lines for interactive education event that will occur the following day, continually update Facebook and answer questions, tweet throughout the day and respond to questions on Twitter, meet with the engineering team when they get back from their day activities, download all of the photos and videos taken throughout the day to a server, sort through and pick favorites to upload to Flickr and write captions for those. Coordinate a photo shoot at mission control. Write a blog, such as this! Set up for a live distance learning (DLN) event and execute it.. Pretty crazy, huh?! And then, the day ends by documenting all of the work, lessons learned, preparing for the next day, and it all starts all over again the next day.

You can follow our mission this week at:
Twitter: NASA_NEEMO
Facebook: NEEMO
Flickr: NEEMO 15

NEEMO 15 EPO team

The Education and Public Outreach (EPO) team interviews subject matter experts on systems deployed during the engineering tests. Photo credit: NASA

NEEMO 15 Engineering Tests, Day 2: Taking Designs Into the Field

NEEMO 15 engineer divers

Engineer divers get ready to install the translation tool simulator into the wall.

The NEEMO-15 mission will be in October, and in an engineer’s mind, that means there’s still time to iterate on designs. Today the engineering team took some of those designs into the field. One of the devices tested today was a “spacesuit waist ring simulator.” It acts as the waist structure of a spacesuit would, except it’s attached to a diver wearing SCUBA tanks. It holds EVA tools, provides stability against structure, and even blocks some of the view, just as a spacesuit’s waist ring would. So today, after constructing this device in labs and workshops, it was finally time to put it in the water. After estimating it’s weight and buoyancy (and yes, there were bets on whether it would float!), it finally had its first taste of the ocean while still dockside. It checked out, as did the other tools and giant fiberglass “rockwall” that some of the experiments would mount to. So after the paperwork was all signed off, the team set out to the reef.

When arriving at the site – on the same reef but some distance away from Aquarius – the team lowered the rockwall to the ocean floor. Then, one-by-one, test subjects, utility divers, and support divers worked through their checklists and started the clocks on their dive. Astronaut Mike Gernhardt, the test subject actually in the “rig,” found the buoyancy to be near perfect (something that can sometimes take 30 minutes to correct), and started the experiments right away. The first thing that struck everyone was the visibility – the bright sunny, calm day helped the lighting – but the silt being kicked up made it impossible to see further than 10 feet. For the most part this didn’t affect the experiments, and the team pressed ahead. They tested hand-over-hand translation with anchor points on the rockwall, foot-restraint ingresses, anchoring in the silt to stabilize the setup, and using a rigid standoff attached to the waist ring for body stabilization. All while their time was ticking away – and they were not able to speak to each other. This was shaping up to be quite the debrief session.

Anchor tool

This tool will be an anchor and the aquanauts (or divers, in this case) will use the different lines to translate in the surface of an asteroid.

Once back on the boat, the crew discussed what they had learned. Either luck or excellent prediction had caused the rig to be perfectly buoyant, but some stabilization was needed on the waist ring – and the fins – they proved to be positively buoyant by sending the subject’s feet sinking after they were removed. Mike was happy to share an interesting discovery: while holding an excursion line anchored in two locations on the “asteroid,” one could effectively pull against the surface and walk, just as if there was gravity! There were other lessons learned, and many adjustments that would need to be made overnight and in the next few days, so the team used the trip back to base to rest and, well, talk more about the big picture.

I guess you could call it an engineering brainstorming session. Not one with whiteboards, flowcharts and venn diagrams, but just bunch of people, passionate about space exploration, talking on a boat. They all had huge variations in their backgrounds and individual training, and just witnessed a sampling of how difficult it would be to possibly someday explore an asteroid. Were the issues they saw today the same ones would be face on an asteroid? No, but some of them were strikingly analogous: The near-zero visibility had a similar effect to what could happen after touching the surface of a dusty asteroid. Body movements made on the ocean floor while “almost” neutrally buoyant are similar to what astronauts would face when moving across the surface of an uncharted asteroid. And how will we know what anchoring techniques would be effective? As the team neared the base on the shores of Key Largo, their conversation shifted to the varieties of anchoring tools we use here on Earth. Not knowing what kind of surfaces are out there is making us consider a variety of approaches from many “analogous” situations here on Earth: rock climbing, foundation repair, even drift diving.

This was just a snapshot of one day of experiments in preparation for the NEEMO-15. The countless hours that go into getting ready for a mission are one of the many similarities to NASA’s space missions. Significant is the fact that NEEMO-15 will mimic something that has never been done by humans before. The question could be posed: Isn’t this just a combination of what we have done in the past? Combine the weightlessness, tethering and translation techniques on the International Space Station, and then add to that all of the knowledge gained putting human feet on another world during the Apollo program. Right?

Not quite. The final discussions of the evening (after hours of replanning, retooling and regrouping) were about how asteroid exploration is definitely the most challenging of both worlds. Exploring a possibly dusty, wholly unknown, completely uncertified, essentially weightless, “surface” of an asteroid, would definitely be more challenging than combining the sum of our lessons learned from the Moon and ISS. Those experiences under our belt will be the basis of much that NASA does in the future – but we all agree it’s a good thing we’re learning how to hone our skills, here on Earth.

Hand translation simulation

A close-up shot of the hand translation simulation.

NEEMO 15 Engineering Tests, Day 1

NEEMO 15 support crew

NEEMO 15 support crew setting up devices to be used in the mission.

Today was a busy day in Key Largo, Florida for the support crew of the NEEMO 15 engineering tests. Personnel of NOAA’s Undersea Research Center, or NURC, were busy activating the Aquarius and preparing for this week’s intense diving operations. They left the dock here at the shoreside support facility, aptly named Aquarius Reef Base (ARB), early this morning and were out conducting operations at the Aquarius site, approximately 5 miles south-southeast of Key Largo.

They started up the generators and compressors on the Life Support Buoy (LSB) directly above Aquarius. The LSB has an umbilical directly down to Aquarius to supply it with fresh air, electricity, and communication links. Divers then descended to Aquarius and powered up all the systems and tested the communications equipment in preparation for the week’s upcoming events. NEEMO mission specific tasks were also performed, such as setting up portions of the rock wall, and testing the remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

While all this was going on offshore, the NASA support team was busy onshore at ARB assembling structures to be placed on the seafloor such as mock-ups for the Multi-mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) and suit port alignment guides (SPAG), anchoring and tethering devices, translation hardware, and telescoping booms with foot restraint devices. Additionally, they conducted familiarization training on the diving equipment, and checked out equipment to be used on the week’s intense dive operations, to begin tomorrow. Safety briefings were given by the NURC personnel and swim tests were conducted on those dive team members who were either new to the project, or no longer current by NURC’s guidelines. Several runs to the local dive shops and hardware stores were needed to make up for any shortcomings in the original logistics.

NEEMO 15 support crew

NEEMO 15 support crew member assembling structures for dive operations.

Numerous interviews were recorded with subject matter experts on various NEEMO hardware and ROV operations. An all-hands briefing was held in the evening, going over the day’s accomplishments, and previewing tomorrow’s planned diving operations.

Second Life Desert RATS: A Mixed Reality Meeting in the Desert

Caledonia Heron

Caledonia Heron is participating in a Desert RATS 3-D mission in Second Life.
+ Download a guide to getting started and locating Desert RATS in Second Life (PDF)

By Caledonia Heron
September 1, 2010

(NASA Virtual News) – We’re in the Second Life rover yard this morning, preparing for a D-RATS mixed reality event from the Arizona Black Rock volcanic field. We’ll stream the live, real-world webcast into Second Life’s social media 3-D world to create an immersive, participatory experience for the Second Life community.

The rover yard in Second Life replicates NASA rover activities so users can share in NASA’s compelling story of science and exploration. Mission concepts and technology models are available to everyone in this hands-on, distance-learning environment. Second Life residents are telepresent as they work together and communicate about the design, analysis and performance of space technology and events. This feeling of telepresence creates a collaborative bond that fosters engagement, conversation, feedback and learning.

The rover yard in Second Life

The rover yard for Desert RATS in Second Life.

The NASA eEd island is a venue to investigate education outreach and ultimately the usefulness of conducting science in virtual world platforms. As virtual worlds evolve it’s possible that shared virtual spaces such as Second Life will include the planning, development and training for future D-RATS missions. Scientists and engineers will routinely use desktop 3-D technology to spatially investigate large data sets, explore human factors issues and perform simulated tasks.

Back from the future of virtual worlds to here and now, where Second Life residents are dropping in to participate in the Arizona D-RATS webcast with NASA scientists. During and after the webcast, the conversation spins from what the rovers will be used for, their destinations, the size of the rovers and vehicles to get them to their destinations. The group is a mix of scientists and educators interested in NASA’s work.

NASA eEd Island in Second Life

The NASA eEd Island in Second Life.

You can join the citizen scientist and educator network in Second Life and be a part of virtual NASA at work. Contact the LT Technical Office to have your NASA education project represented. The NASA eEducation island is located in Second Life and sponsored by NASA Learning Technologies, an education technology incubator.

Desert RATS: What now?

By Dr. Jacob Bleacher
Dr. Jacob Bleacher is a Planetary Geologist working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. For the 2010 Desert RATS field test, Dr. Bleacher was the geology crew member on rover B during week one.

Now that the field test is over, what will our team be doing? Some of you might have heard that one goal of this field test was to experiment with several different operational modes. Two different exploration strategies that we examined included different approaches to using two rovers at the same time, and two different communications capabilities. The two approaches to using both rovers were called “Lead and Trail” and “Divide and Conquer.”

During “Lead and Trail” operations, both rovers and crew operated in close proximity to each other, often exploring similar geologic terrains. In general, the rovers maintained line of sight, but most important was maintaining communications during these operations. If line of sight and communications were lost for a period of time, both rovers were required to return to the last location in which they had communication with the other rover. In general, this resulted in the rovers being no farther apart than 1-2 km.

During “Divide and Conquer” operations, both rovers were free to explore different geologic terrains without maintaining line of sight or as strict communications. This enabled both crews to cover more ground as a team, but should something go wrong, they would be farther apart from each other and less able to help each other out of trouble.

The two communications scenarios that we tested were called “Two-a-day Comms.” and “Continuous Comms.” Together, these two scenarios represent the opposite extremes of how we might set up our communications capabilities for future missions.

During “Two-a-day Comms,” the crew were not in communication with the science backroom or Mission Control during the day. Crew were responsible for making sure that they arrived to predetermined sites, at which our communications hardware would enable us to touch base with the backrooms. As we slept in the rover overnight, the backrooms would work to download all of the data that we had collected the day before. At the beginning and end of each day, while we were still in communication with the backrooms, we would have meetings to discuss what we had seen during the day, and what the plan was for the new day.

During “Continuous Comms,” the crew were able to communicate directly with both Mission Control and the science team at all times. This enabled the science team to keep track of what we had done all day, and took some pressure off of them while working through the night to interpret all of our data.

As you might suspect, each scenario resulted in slightly different outcomes. As we have read already, the Human Factors team was tasked with keeping track of how the crew physically responded to the work environment, which is strongly influenced by these different scenarios. Meanwhile, the Science Team was keeping close track of which combination of scenarios provided the greatest science value.

Now that the test is over, it’s time for the team to evaluate what the outcome was of these different scenarios. Each scenario will also need to be balanced against the cost it takes to make it happen. So, which one was best? What do you think? Stay tuned. You might very well see the answer to that question in the way that our future missions are designed to send humans to the moon and other planets. And you can say you saw it all unfolding when you kept track of the Desert RATS and other NASA Analog Field Tests.

Space Exploration Vehicles A and B

Space Exploration Vehicles A and B come home at the end of the Desert RATS mission.

Desert RATS: Space Exploration Vehicle Versus Lunar Rover

By Dr. Jacob Bleacher
Dr. Jacob Bleacher is a Planetary Geologist working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. For the 2010 Desert RATS field test, Dr. Bleacher was the geology crew member on rover B during week one.

One of the great advantages of the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) is the ability for the crew to return to a “shirt sleeve” environment (like your living room) inside the rover, to relax between Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs). In an earlier blog, Dr. Rice mentioned that the Apollo J-Missions (15-17) brought along a rover. This rover enabled their crew to cover much more ground than the earlier Apollo missions and was a great advance for human exploration of another solar system surface. However, the Apollo rover was unpressurized, meaning the crew needed to be in their spacesuits for the entire time, as they roved the lunar surface.

During the J-Missions, crew members were in their pressurized suits for up to 8 hours a day for 3 days of exploration. Operating in a pressurized suit is difficult and can be painful. It is manageable for a short period of time. Future missions to explore the solar system with humans may be longer duration missions, such as 7, 14, 30 days or even longer. If crew members were to use an unpressurized rover for missions of this length, they would be forced to wear their pressurized suits for much longer periods of time than their Apollo forefathers.

As I mentioned before, the suitports help us to keep dust out of the rover. They also give the crew a break between EVAs so they do not feel as much discomfort or exhaustion as a result of wearing pressurized suits all day, every day, during a mission. As Dr. Robert Howard reported in his blog, the human factors team is monitoring how tired we become during EVAs and how quickly we can recover while resting inside the rover. During my week in rover Bravo, we went on one EVA for almost 3 hours, as did the crew of Rover Alpha. In the second week, one crew went on two EVAs in one day that were just as long.

I can say, that at the end of my long EVA, I was very happy to return to the rover. After using the suitport to enter the SEV, I was able to change out of my dirty field shirt and into a clean t-shirt. I was able to stretch out without a heavy backpack on and I even stood in front of the air conditioning vents for a few minutes to help me cool off. Although we don’t have much time to “relax” after an EVA (because we need to head to our next site), it is much more comfortable to sit in a clean t-shirt without a backpack on while navigating and driving (and even eating a snack). Due to the ability to take a break between EVAs, the SEV and its suitports make it reasonable for us to plan missions of a month or more, without causing the crew to suffer from exhaustion.

Lunar rover

Astronaut David Scott must wear a spacesuit while driving the unpressurized lunar rover on the Apollo 15 mission.

Dr. Jacob Bleacher inside rover

Dr. Jacob Bleacher and the other crew members can work in shirt-sleeves inside the Space Exploration Vehicle.

Desert RATS: Black Point Lava Flow, Human Origins and Destiny

By Dr. Jim Rice

Dr. Jim Rice is an Astrogeologist working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. For the 2010 Desert Rats field test, Dr. Rice will be the geology crew member on rover A in week one, as well as a member of the science backroom for week 2.

Our field site here in northern Arizona allows one to contemplate our human origins and destiny in a very unique way. Now, allow me to explain. The Black Point Lava Flow, where Chris and I started our 7-day mission in Rover Alpha, is 2 million years old. 2 million years is an interesting number in terms of human origins. While the Black Point Lava Flow was being born and flowing as a river of molten rock and fire, our early ancestors, Homo Erectus, were learning to fashion tools out of rock (some were made of basalt – the very same rock type that is at Black Point) and harness fire for the first time in Africa, the cradle of mankind. This date of 2 million years ago also records the first migration of our ancient ancestors out of Africa and into what is now Europe and Asia.

Now, moving on to another prominent lava flow for this year’s field test, we come to the lava flow from SP Mountain. This flow is 70,000 years old and while this eruption was taking place, halfway around the globe a much larger massive super volcanic eruption was occurring at Toba, in what is present-day Indonesia. This was one of the largest eruptions known in the geologic record. Its prestigious amounts of ash combined with an already present Ice Age contributed to further cooling the planet down. At the same time, the human population had decreased to a dangerously low level of between only 1,000 to 10,000 people worldwide. Modern humans at this time started another mass migration out of Africa that eventually led to the spread of humans across the whole globe that we recognize today.

Flash forward to today, where we are now conducting a manned Planetary Rover field test. It is also interesting to note that the earliest human footprints are recorded and preserved in a layer of volcanic ash, and the Apollo astronauts’ bootprints are also preserved in the volcanic plains of the moon (see photos below). The human race is now on the brink of another major migration – this time it is into the cosmos. I have no doubt that Desert RATS with everyone’s hard labor and long hours is setting the stage for this, the greatest of all human migrations out among the stars.

Earliest human footprint

Photo of the earliest human footprint recorded in volcanic ash.

First footprint on the moon

Photo of the first human footprint in lunar soil.

Desert RATS: Life in Space Exploration Vehicle B

By Kelsey Young
Kelsey Young is a geologist in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and supporting Desert RATS as a member of the science backroom and as one of the geologist crew members.

Seven days in Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) B. I am conducting a thorough exploration of a volcanic terrain in a concept space vehicle with one other person (in my case, Astronaut Stephanie Wilson). Sound straightforward? While I’m a field geologist who has spent a lot of time in the outdoors, I’ve not been trained to live in a confined space for seven straight days. Cooking, sleeping, going to the bathroom, and cleaning, take on a whole new meaning. They all happen in a very small space. My bed is also the storage location for my food, in addition to the surface where I prepare my meals. In preparing for this field test, and completing the first three days, I’ve been surprised to realize how easy it is to live comfortably in SEV B.

The biggest thing I’ve learned while spending the last three days in the rover, is establishing a set of routines to use for each daily task. It takes several minutes for the hot water for cooking to heat up, and in that time I clean my bed and eating surface (typically my seat in the front of the rover). For food we eat dehydrated pastas and meats that have to be cooked for 10 minutes with hot water. We also have iced tea, lemonade, and fruit punch mixes that we can drink, and instant coffee for the mornings.

Each person has their own sleep station that affords a lot of privacy, and we each have a set of soft lockers where we can store our clothes and personal items. Considering we’re living in a prototype space vehicle, it’s been a comfortable stay! SEV B has become my home away from home, and I’ll say a fond farewell at the end of Day 7.

Crew members hiking

Crew members and test team hike toward a designated exploration site on Mission Day 11.

Space Exploration Vehicle in field

The Space Exploration Vehicle viewed from a distance, a small white dot against the landscape.

Desert RATS: Fieldwork With The Space Exploration Vehicle

By José Hurtado
José Hurtado is a geologist, teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). During Desert RATS 2010 he is working in the science back room in week one, and on Space Exploration Vehicle A as the geology crew member in week two.

My name is José Hurtado, and, while I am a geologist and professor in my normal job, for the past three days I am one of two crewmembers on board a prototype planetary rover called the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV). I’m supporting a week-long mission simulation in the Arizona desert north of Flagstaff that is part of a NASA field test called Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies). The test has the overall goal of figuring out how to use the SEV for studying geology on another planet. We are doing this in the San Francisco volcanic field, a cluster of volcanoes that have erupted over the past 3 million years and are similar to the types of terrain and geology we hope to someday explore on the surface of the moon or Mars. Our mission is to make observations and to collect samples to help unravel the history of volcanic eruptions in the area.

Our main tool for doing this is the rover itself, which is an incredible machine for fieldwork. In addition to being able to climb over steep, rough terrain, it also has an array of cameras and a bubble window that allow us to get detailed views of the surroundings. It serves as our mobile home and base of operations for performing EVAs (“extravehicular activities”), or spacewalks to make detailed observations. During our EVAs we wear backpacks that simulate the spacesuits astronauts would wear when exploring outside their SEV. The backpacks also have video cameras we can use to share our findings with our colleagues on the science team in “mission control”. Other tools we use are familiar to geologists, including a rock hammer, shovel, tongs, core tubes, and sample bags. We use these to take rock, soil, and sediment samples to bring back to a prototype GeoLab facility at base camp. The GeoLab allows us to make basic observations about the texture and structure of the samples with a microscope and mineral and elemental composition of our samples with an X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

I have three more days left in my mission before we arrive at base camp for a day of work in the GeoLab. It has been a productive and fun mission so far, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to help NASA plan for future planetary exploration missions!

SEV caravan

The caravan with Space Exploration Vehicles (SEVs) also includes chase vehicles with scientists and others supporting mission operations teams.

SEV behind rock formations

The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) moving along the trail is captured on camera from behind rock formations.