Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arctic Crater Expedition To Seek Mars Science Insights And Test Future Exploration Technologies

Date:
June 17, 1998
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
NASA scientists soon will explore a barren Arctic meteorite impact crater to attempt to learn more about Mars and its early history, while testing technologies useful for future robotic and human exploration of the planet.

NASA scientists soon will explore a barren Arctic meteorite impact crater to attempt to learn more about Mars and its early history, while testing technologies useful for future robotic and human exploration of the planet.

From June 22 to July 26, a 20-member science team from NASA and several other research organizations will explore the Haughton Impact Crater and its surroundings on Devon Island in the Arctic Circle.

Scientists consider the site a potential Mars analog because many of its geologic features, such as the crater's ice-rich terrains, its ancient lake sediments and nearby networks of small valleys, resemble those reported at the surface of Mars. The site may shed light in particular on the early history of Mars, when the planet's climate may have been wetter and warmer.

"The cold, relatively dry, windy and unvegetated environment at the Haughton site is milder and wetter than present-day Mars, but it may give us an idea of what early Mars was like and how some of its surface features were formed," said Principal Investigator Dr. Pascal Lee of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

During the expedition, Dr. Omead Amidi and other engineers from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, will conduct field tests of an experimental, robotic helicopter. "The mission provides a great opportunity to demonstrate the feasibility and the value of robotic aircraft for mapping and surveying applications," Amidi said.

Carnegie Mellon's small, 160-pound autonomous helicopter has vision-based stability and position control, as well as an onboard navigation computer, laser rangefinder and video system for site mapping. More information about the unpiloted helicopter may be found at the following website: http://www.ri.cmu.edu/project/chopper

In addition to the tests with the autonomous helicopter, scientists also will conduct experiments with a ground-penetrating radar system, a field spectrometer, drilling equipment and a stereo camera.

The radar system will be deployed in an attempt to map ground-ice and other subsurface conditions within and outside the crater's 12-mile (20-kilometer) diameter. "The ability to find underground ice, both for human consumption and geologic studies, will be critical in the exploration of Mars," said Dr. Aaron Zent of Ames, Dr. Lee's post-doctoral research advisor.

Scientists will use a field spectrometer to determine the site's reflective qualities and better understand the crater's compositional evolution. In another experiment, scientists will use a portable drill to obtain core samples from ten feet deep in the frozen ground. Core samples of sediments from a lake that once occupied the crater will provide information about local climate evolution. Since the use of liquid drilling lubricants might be precluded on Mars, none will be used in this test.

A portable stereo camera system previously used by Carnegie Mellon's Nomad rover during its unprecedented 133-mile wheeled trek through Chile's Atacama Desert last summer will provide high-resolution images of the site, and produce images for a 360 degree photo-realistic virtual reality project being developed by Ames' Intelligent Mechanisms Group.

Using laptop computer systems and "mobile workstations" developed by Ames' Intelligent Mobile Technologies Team, scientists will communicate with other field team members and send live images via a wireless link. Team members will operate from a base camp on a terrace of the Haughton River within the crater's perimeter and explore the site with All-Terrain Vehicles. Supplies will be brought in by Twin Otter airplane, while a helicopter will aid exploration of remote sites.

As part of the expedition's educational outreach program, the following website will be updated regularly with new data and images as available: http://www.arctic-mars.org

The total cost of the project is $80,000. NASA is partially funding the project through a National Research Council grant. Additional support is provided by Ames Research Center; NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; the Geological Survey of Canada; the Polar Continental Shelf Project of Canada; the Nunavut Research Institute, Canada; the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University; NovAtel Communications, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and the National Geographic Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Arctic Crater Expedition To Seek Mars Science Insights And Test Future Exploration Technologies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980617071512.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (1998, June 17). Arctic Crater Expedition To Seek Mars Science Insights And Test Future Exploration Technologies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980617071512.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Arctic Crater Expedition To Seek Mars Science Insights And Test Future Exploration Technologies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/06/980617071512.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

NASA (July 25, 2014) Apollo 11 celebration, Next Giant Leap anticipation, ISS astronauts appear in the House and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
How A Solar Flare Could Have Wrecked Earth's Electronics

How A Solar Flare Could Have Wrecked Earth's Electronics

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Researchers say if Earth had been a week earlier in its orbit around the sun, it would have taken a direct hit from a 2012 coronal mass ejection. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins