By Darlene Lim – Principal investigator for Pavilion Lake Research Project
When Dana Lis, our PLRP Education and Public Outreach coordinator, asked me to write a blog about how I was feeling, the first word that popped into my mind was – EXCITED! After months of planning, testing and organizing we are finally ready to start our adventure, and I am so looking forward to it all.
We now have nearly 200 participants on the PLRP team, and each year thousands of work hours go into preparing for our DeepWorker Science and Exploration (DSE) field deployment. Planning starts pretty much as soon as we end the prior year’s field program. This year’s deployment at Kelly Lake is no exception.
What’s in store is our most ambitious and operationally complex field program yet?
Throughout this coming week’s activities, we will continue our scientific exploration of microbialite rich lakes using such exploration tools as DeepWorker single-person submersibles and SCUBA diving. This research builds upon the work we have been conducting at Pavilion Lake, which is about an hour’s drive away. However, the team’s research doesn’t stop there. Our DSE program requires the integration of scientific methods, and operational and technological advancements. From these real field science activities, NASA scientists are learning about what it takes to conduct safe, productive and discovery-based science in extreme environments. It is this knowledge that will form the basis of future exploration concepts for human research voyages to such destinations as Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and Mars. With the end of the Shuttle program, this and other analog programs, such as Desert RATS and NEEMO, truly becomes NASA’s bridge to future space flight.
The entire PLRP is personal passion, so it is not surprising that I am extremely excited to get our 2011 field program underway. But beyond the research, I’m excited to see the incredible scientists, engineers, operations experts, astronauts, and teachers who have become part of the PLRP family. I’m thrilled to meet new colleagues who join us for the first time this year, and to thank the Clinton and Kelly Lake community for all of the support and assistance that they have already provided to the PLRP.
I remember when I was a kid that if something got me really excited I would jump up and down with joy. Well, you know how it is, you kinda have to park that behavior through Junior high and high school, so I did. But I find myself rekindling that jumping behavior these days each time I hear about some new finding or technical development or outreach opportunity that the PLRP team members come up with. Happily, my NASA colleagues seem ok with me bouncing up and down periodically. It is a joy, it is a privilege, to be part of the PLRP family. And I hope that everyone reading our blogs will feel like you are part of the adventure too.