By Aquanaut Tim Peake (European Space Agency)
Aquanaut Tim Peake prepares to anchor so he has a stable platform from which to gather samplesImage at Right: Tim Peake prepares to anchor so he has a stable platform from which to gather samples. 
“Good Teamwork” — it’s something that makes the difference between winning or losing, success or failure and in extreme cases living or dying. As jargon, "teamwork" is easy enough to say — much harder to define and it can be a tricky little recipe to create.
When everyone is working selflessly towards a common goal…that’s a good start…and as a crew member of NEEMO 16, I am witnessing daily so many fantastic examples of great teamwork. Often it’s the little things that make all the difference, like the thankless task our support divers had removing the trash bags from Aquarius this morning, or coming in from nearly five hours in the water and being met by Steve offering hot chocolate and wasabi peas. I had told Steve that I didn’t need anything, but he knew I did…and he was right!
Then there is the bigger picture, the huge support infrastructure from Mission Control and the immense logistical effort to ensure that we have the right tools, equipment, communications, medical support and IT to do the job, without which we could not accomplish the mission. There are people enduring many hours a day in a five-foot Atlantic swell above us, or monitoring computer screens 24/7 in windowless rooms, not to mention those topside divers and supervisors who are looking after us in the water and ensuring that we have a seamless transition from one task to the next.
And then there are our two habitat technicians James and Justin, who quietly go about their business (OK, maybe James is not that quiet!) of knowing exactly what we need and when we need it…keeping us on track and safe in our temporary underwater home. And I have only mentioned a fraction of the team so far.
The fact that so many people have come together from such diverse backgrounds and cultures, and in a short space of time gelled together into a tight knit and highly efficient team speaks volumes about the common goal that has united this team…pushing the boundaries of humanity’s exploration into the solar system. And that is something most definitely worthy of all of our effort.
So NEEMO 16 has successfully achieved that tricky little recipe of great teamwork and as with all good recipes this also has a lot to do with the chef…but that is a subject for another blog…LEADERSHIP!
Learn more about NEEMO at


By Aquanaut Tim Peake (European Space Agency)

The NEEMO 16 Crew prepares for splashdownImage at right (left to right): JAXA Astronaut Kimiya Yui, NASAAstronaut (and N16 Commander) Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, ESA AstronautTim Peake, and Veteran Aquanaut Dr. SteveSquyres.

After months of training and preparation the day finally arrived…Splashdown for NASA’s NEEMO 16 mission. The crew woke early, eager to pack the few last remaining items into the ‘pots’ that our superb support crew, amongst their many other tasks, would be taking down to the Aquarius habitat ahead of our arrival.

The atmosphere on the Key Largo dockside this morning was buzzing with activity, conversation and good humour. The NEEMO mission team had gathered to say farewell to the saturation crew – and despite our intense excitement at what lay ahead we were genuinely sorry to say goodbye to all our friends and colleagues who have dedicate so much time and effort into making this a successful mission so far.

The weather today was kind, as it had been all week, and with only a 2-3 foot swell to deal with, our dive boat made quick work of the 8km out to Life Support Buoy, which feeds Aquarius with electricity and clean air. It felt quite weird — donning SCUBA gear for what could have been a routine dive but knowing that we would not be surfacing for 12 more days! With our team photo complete and the hot Florida sun beating down on us — finally jumping into the ocean was just the best feeling ever.

Since we had full cylinders of air on our backs the team enjoyed a great dive around Aquarius, which included of course posing for the customary pre-mission photos! As we positioned ourselves around one of Aquarius’ port holes we were joined by an inquisitive little turtle, who we later learned was called Little Joe and was a huge fan with previous NEEMO crews. With the air getting low it was finally time to say goodbye to our topside dive buddies and head into the wet-porch of Aquarius, where our lab technicians James and Justin were waiting to greet us. Some of the first things we noticed were the higher pitch of our voices and the fact that it was very hard to whistle in the thick air under a pressure of 2.5 atmospheres.

Aquarius is such an amazing place — unique as it is currently the only underwater habitat in the world and as James took us through the initial briefing it was hard not to be distracted by the Wrasse, Grouper, Barracuda and myriad of other marine animals who were queuing up outside the portholes to look at these strange humans who had come to share their environment for a short period of time.

Unfortunately, our free time to enjoy the new environment was limited as we had to get to work setting up our ‘IV Station’ with communications, IT, cameras, etc., and getting back into the water in pairs with our mini-workstations and jet-packs attached for more familiarization and practice of our asteroid extravehicular activity techniques.

So a successful and busy start to this amazing mission, and as we acclimatise to our new surroundings, it is very clear to see that the real fun is only just beginning!

To learn more about the NEEMO 16 mission, visit:

Starting Moon Work Internship Week #1 and #2

Kevin Buckley

Kevin Buckley is an intern supporting Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) and NASA JSC.

DRATS Internship Week 1:

This week I started out by meeting my mentors, Matt and Jason, and I am working in the Lunar Surface Systems group, specifically making preparations for the Mission Management Team (MMT), of which I will be a part during the traverse in Arizona. Early in the week I spent time meeting people in the office and getting acquainted with the work, but mostly I worked on creating a template for our MMT meetings, which would take place for the first time next week during the Dry Runs.

DRATS Internship Week 2:

This week we were pretty busy, the dry-runs were being conducted all week, so we came in early and stayed late a couple of the days. Courtney arrived on Monday and she helped me finish up the template for the MMT meetings, which we led on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, we didn’t have an MMT meeting, so we helped out the rover crew by riding along inside as they did their traverses and taking notes and pictures, which was a lot of fun. It was really cool to ride inside of the rover and see how the crew functions. Also Courtney and I were interviewed by the film crew they had for outreach to seventh-graders which was pretty cool too. So far on the whole the internship is a lot of fun, and I’m learning the process NASA uses, and the similarities to my capstone project that got me here.

Interview about internship in Building 9 High Bay

Interview about internship in Building 9 High Bay

DRATS Internship Week 3:

This week was the week between dry-run weeks, so our tasks focused mainly on preparing for the next set of dry runs and further our preparation for the field. Jason, who has been primarily our direct point of contact, is at NASA Ames this week on another project. Courtney and I have been managing our work and organizing our tasks ourselves, which has lent to the feel of a real work setting. Along with continuing our work from the previous weeks, we also got to help out with some other tasks, such as to help install battery packs and shore up some wiring on one of the shirtsleeve EVA backpacks. Our MMT meeting template has been mostly finalized, we’ve spent considerable time putting together a master contact list, and we have been receiving quotes for things we’ll need in the field, such as cranes, forklifts, etc. Overall it’s been a productive week, and we’re learning the process and way things work more each day.

Shirtsleeve EVA Backpack

Courtney and I were working on this Shirtsleeve Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) Backpack.


WASHINGTON – A group of scientists experienced in working in the harsh conditions of the high Canadian Arctic this week began the 14th field season of the Haughton-Mars Project, HMP-2010. This year’s field season includes a three-week effort to assess concepts for future planetary exploration, including crew activities, robots and mission control.


During HMP-2010, researchers will study how lunar robotic “follow-up” activities can improve human exploration; they will use the Haughton Crater on Devon Island, Canada to simulate an approximately 75-mile long robotic convoy from the Shackleton Crater to Mount Malapert in the south polar region of the moon.


“Explorers, such as geologists, often find themselves with a set of observations they would have liked to make, or samples they would have liked to take, if only they had been able to stay longer at a site,” said Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “Our work this year is to study how remotely operated robots – perhaps even vehicles previously used for crew transport – can be used to perform follow-up work.”


Using robots for follow-up work could save astronauts from having to perform tedious, repetitive or very time-consuming activities. Additionally, robots could make measurements that complement or supplement those initially taken by humans. According to scientists and mission planners, there will be substantial amounts of time between crewed missions to use robots to perform research work on the moon.


At HMP-2010, NASA will deploy K10 robots, developed by the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames, which are equipped with a variety of instruments including a 3-D scanning lidar, color imagers, spectrometers and ground-penetrating radar. The K10s will perform follow-up work scenarios, such as systematic mapping of above- and below-ground structures and characterizing the rocks, soil and landscape of key areas at Haughton Crater in support of the Moon and Mars Analog Mission Activities Program in the Science Mission Directorate and the Exploration Technology Development Program in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington.


NASA also will conduct a series of experiments designed to examine how future lunar surface systems, such as crew rovers, might be robotically repositioned from one location to a new rendezvous location with astronauts.


”Poor lighting and low resolution of satellite imagery can make a planned route look very simple from above, but once we are on the ground we can see obstacles we couldn’t before that make the route unexpectedly challenging,” said Matt Leonard, principal investigator of the Lunar Surface System (LSS) experiment at Haughton Crater. “We will study how to use ground robots to scout alternative safe routes, categorize hard-to-detect obstacles and examine how best to prepare for venturing into unknown terrain,” he added.


In addition to working around unexpected roadblocks during future planetary convoys, the LSS experiment team will study how a robot on a set route with a fixed schedule can conduct science tasks, such as sampling or gathering images. To do this, the team will work with a K10 robot and HMP’s MARS-1 Humvee Rover field exploration vehicle, to simulate a large planetary crew vehicle equipped with science instruments. The LSS experiment is one of several Exploration Analog Missions being conducted this summer by NASA’s Exploration System Mission Directorate.


“When you are on a tight schedule to go from one location to another, or have to follow a specific route, it’s critical to determine the potential cost of making an unplanned stop or detour,” said, Pascal Lee, director of the Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames, chairman of the Mars Institute, Moffett Field, Calif., and a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif. “The Shackleton to Malapert traverse and future planetary traverses elsewhere may have only limited time for opportunistic science, so we need to understand what decision-making process will yield the highest science return.”


The Haughton-Mars Project is an international, multidisciplinary field research project focused on the scientific study of the Haughton impact crater and surrounding terrain on Devon Island in Canada’s high Arctic. According to scientists, the site’s polar desert setting, geological features, and microbiology, make Haughton Crater a good site for moon and Mars analog studies. The HMP is managed by the Mars Institute in collaboration with the SETI Institute.


For more information about the Haughton Mars Project, visit:


For more information about the NASA’s Exploration Analog Missions, visit:


For more information about the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group, visit:



NASA Opens Online Voting for Next Desert RATS Exploration Site

NASA is inviting the public to choose an area in northern Arizona where explorers will conduct part of the annual Desert
Research and Technology Studies, known as Desert RATS.

“Desert RATS is an annual test where NASA takes equipment and crews into the field to simulate future planetary exploration missions,” said Joe Kosmo, Desert RATS manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We want the public to be a part of this.”

From July 27 through Aug. 8, space enthusiasts can vote where to send the Desert RATS team, which includes engineers, scientists and astronauts. To cast your vote, visit:

The website features interactive panoramic images of lava, rocks and desert for the public to choose as the most interesting destination to explore. The location that receives the most votes will be announced Aug. 16. Astronauts
will visit that site to perform field geology and collect rock samples.

The Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., took the panoramic images of terrain and geologic features in early 2009 at Black Point Lava Flow in Arizona.

“It is essential to involve the public in NASA’s exploration program to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said IRG Director Terry Fong. “We want people of all ages to be able to actively participate, contribute and collaborate in meaningful ways to NASA’s activities.”

The Desert Rats 2010 mission also involves field testing two space exploration vehicles, which could allow astronauts to spend two or more weeks living, working, and traveling across different planets. Astronauts will use two such vehicles to explore a lava flow and test data collection methods, communications protocols, mission operations, and advanced technology. Desert RATS is sponsored by NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Desert RATS, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

Byron Adams (ASU): K10 Experiment and other Research


Video by Elaine Walker (EPO, HMP, Mars Institute)
Copyright 2010 Mars Institute


This blog is courtesy of Haughton Mars Project (HMP)

For more information please visit


Byron Adams is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate at the Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration. His primary research focuses on utilizing thermochronology, cosmogenic radionuclide dating, and structural and geomorphological mapping to study the tectonic history and geomorphology of the Bhutan Himalaya. He is advised by Kip Hodges, Kelin Whipple and Arjun Heimsath.

Byron has a B.S. in Geology from Ball State University in Indiana and a M.S. in Geology from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. While at Cincinnati, he worked in the Lahul Himalaya of northern India investigating exhumation and river incision rates with Craig Dietsch and Lewis Owen.

Kelsey Young (ASU): K10 Experiment and other Research

Video by Elaine Walker (EPO, HMP, Mars Institute)
Copyright 2010 Mars Institute


This blog is courtesy of Haughton Mars Project (HMP)

For more information please visit


Kelsey Young is a geologist in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Kelsey earned her undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Notre Dame where she studied Earth-based analogs for Mars. Specifically, she conducted fieldwork to study the interactions of lava and water in conjunction with examining similar features on the surface of Mars. While completing this work, she became interested in using terrestrial analogs to work on issues associated with manned space exploration. Kelsey is now working on her Ph.D. in geology, and is pursuing this interest by combining geology with the logistics of planetary surface exploration.

Working in terrestrial analog sites like Haughton Mars Project gives her first-hand experience on active processes happening on other planetary surfaces. While at HMP- 2010, Kelsey will be collecting impact breccia samples from inside the crater in order to date the age of the impact using (U-Th)/He thermochronology.

Kelsey is currently working under one of NASA’s Graduate Student Researcher Program’s (GSRP) Fellowships, so she is working closely with NASA Johnson Space Center on incorporating a spectrometer into the Desert RATS field test (another analog test run by NASA). She will be supporting D-RATS as both a member of the sciencebackroom, and as one of four geologist crewmembers for the test.

Kelsey Young
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University

Dr Matthew Deans (NASA Ames): K10 Robot Experiment


Video by Elaine Walker (EPO, HMP, Mars Institute)
Copyright 2010 Mars Institute


This blog is courtesy of Haughton Mars Project (HMP)

For more information please visit


Dr Matthew Deans is the Deputy Group Lead of the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG), in the Intelligent Systems Division (Code TI), at NASA Ames Research Center. He has significant experience in Field Robotics, participating in field experiments in Antarctica, the Arctic, Atacama Desert, Canadian Rockies, and several sites in the continental US. He was the field team lead for the K10 test at Haughton Crater, Nunavut Canada, in July 2007 and again in July 2010. The K10 experiment is looking at how to use robots to augment human space exploration. The K10 will follow up on field work done by humans by adding additional surveys, context imaging, 3-dimensional scanning, and in situ analytical instruments. These measurements will complement and extend the investigations that were started by field geologists last year.

HMP 2010: Several New Arrivals – HMP Activity Picks Up


This blog is courtesy of Haughton Mars Project (HMP)

For more information please visit


July 24 Flickr Photo Set

copyright 2010 Mars Institute
The CRUX (Construction Resource Utilization Explorer) Drill team, Dr Brian Glass (Senior Scientist, Drilling Automation, NASA Ames), Dr Sarah Thompson (NASA Ames), Shannon Statham (Georgia Tech, Ph.D. student) and Mateusz Szczesiak (Honeybee Robotics), went to drill hill after breakfast with more gear, with the help of Ben Audlaluk (from Grise Fiord) and Peter Eckalook (from Resolute Bay). They got everything up and running with the Mars prototype drill and started drilling today!

The K10 team from NASA Ames, Dr Trey Smith, Susan Lee, Vinh To, Eric Park and Dr Hans Utz, led by Dr Matthew Dean, scouted the site B location and made some upgrades to prepare the robot for more follow up missions.

The Hamilton Sundstrand team, Ron Sidgreaves and Todd Glazier, finalized and assemble the suit ports and stairs on the Mars-1 Humvee Rover. They fitted the suit and stairs for the geologist, Kelsey Young, who will be conducting EVAs in the suit. Kelsey is a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University, in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

There were several new arrivals today, including Kira Lorber of the Mars Institute. Kira is the HMP Logistics Manager for the Mars Institute and typically works out of Resolute Bay during the HMP seasons. She has just had her first meal at camp!

Two of Star’s uncles, Paul Amarualik and Joe Amarualik (former HMP deputy base camp manager) flew in and stayed part of the day before departing again. Dr Brian Glass’s sister, Vicky Glass, has arrived. She is a fire chief in Atlanta will be our safety officer this season and will working with Dr Valerie Myers (NASA JSC) on her immunology study.

Other new arrivals were Dr Perry Johnson-Green and Lauren Artman, both ecologists from CSA, Steve Hoffman (NASA JSC), Tiffany Montague (Google), Dr Stephen Braham (Chief Field Engineer and Associate Director, HMP / SFU), and Stephen’s assistants, Vik Kumar, Parna Niksirat and Isaiah Mandryk.

Nathan Kalluk and Star Amarualik flew back to their home town of Resolute Bay. We thank them for all of their hard work this season!

HMP 2010: K10 Team Analyzes Data – CRUX Team Begins Setup


This blog is courtesy of Haughton Mars Project (HMP)

For more information please visit


July 23 Flickr Photo Set

copyright 2010 Mars Institute
Today started out with low visibility and fairly strong winds. Some sun poked through the clouds in the afternoon and evening but it was rather windy and chilly throughout the day.

The K10 team from NASA Ames, Dr Trey Smith, Susan Lee, Vinh To, Eric Park and Dr Hans Utz, led by Dr Matthew Dean, finished up at locale 8 on Von Braun Planitia, sending back data from the instruments, including a gigapan camera, LiDAR, microscopic imager, ground penetrating radar and an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer. Byron Adams and Kelsey Young analyzed the data. They are both Ph.D. candidates at ASU in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. All of Dr Mark Helper’s objectives for robotic follow up were met at locale 8. Dr Helper is a Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin.

The CRUX Drill team, led by Dr Brian Glass (Senior Scientist, Drilling Automation, NASA Ames), transfered and positioned a load of gear to a location near the drill site in the morning, and went out again after dinner to set up the drill tent and other equipment.