[robotics-worldwide] NASA Opens Online Voting For Next Desert RATS Exploration Site

Terry Fong terry.fong at nasa.gov
Tue Jul 27 23:54:59 PDT 2010

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:


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