Exploring an asteroid with the Desert RATS

Saturday
14:17:19
September
24 2011

Exploring an asteroid with the Desert RATS

View 4.4K

word 582 read time 2 minutes, 54 Seconds

Earlier this month, European scientists linked up with astronauts roaming over the surface of an asteroid. Desert RATS, NASAs realistic simulation of a future mission, this year included a European dimension for the first time.

It was not really an asteroid, but a desert near Flagstaff in Arizona, USA. Since 1999, scientists, astronauts and engineers from various NASA establishments and universities have gathered once a year to simulate human missions to the Moon and Mars.
Desert RATS – Desert Research and Technology Studies – have tested rovers, habitats, spacesuits, instruments, robots, communication systems, research methods and other technical, scientific and operational aspects of future missions.

These realistic ‘missions in extreme environments help to guide planning for future space exploration and build valuable experience in complex operations.

Fly me to an asteroid

This time, the crew of astronauts and geologists ‘landed on a nearby asteroid and ventured out on field trips – by foot and on two Space Exploration Vehicles.

For two weeks, the crew lived in a Deep Space Habitat with realistic radio links to their mother craft and mission control on Earth.

They had to cope with a two-way communications delay of 100 seconds with Earth, and limited bandwidth.

Reproducing the low gravity on an asteroid was impossible, but the ‘spacewalkers acted as though they were on a small body.

For instance, they had to attach themselves to the ground when they used their hammers to take geological samples – otherwise, the recoil would have sent them spinning into space.

Europe comes aboard

In last years DRATS, William Carey, an ESA specialist in future exploration operations strategies, was the only European in Arizona but this year a full science team was active in Europe.

"The simulation is similar to a cricket game: long periods of inactivity punctuated by periods of intense concentration,” explained William, referring to the long preparations.

"When the extravehicular activities began, everyones hearts started to beat faster.”

This was especially so in the two ‘science backrooms, each with a team of scientists and engineers supporting one vehicle and its crew. The European scientists worked in the Erasmus backroom at ESAs ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands which normally support science operations for the ISS.

The team of 11 from Italy, France, the Netherlands, ESA and NASA communicated with the crews out in Arizona, just like a backroom would on a real asteroid mission.

"These scientists were the backup eyes and the extra brain power of the crew,” said Sylvie Espinasse, coordinator for the undertaking in ESA.

"Operating with access to real-time audio and video feeds, we could monitor astronauts and geologists in the field and communicate with them taking into account the delay.”

The team of 11 from Italy, France, the Netherlands, ESA and NASA communicated with the crews out in Arizona, just like a backroom would on a real asteroid mission.

"These scientists were the backup eyes and the extra brain power of the crew,” said Sylvie Espinasse, coordinator for the undertaking in ESA.

"Operating with access to real-time audio and video feeds, we could monitor astronauts and geologists in the field and communicate with them taking into account the delay.”

One of two vehicles used in Desert RATS.
In addition to the ’science backroom’ at ESTEC, ESA had a robotic expert Frédéric Didot in Arizona and a mission control expert Paul Steele at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre. Steele also acted as CapComm during the operations.

Credits: ESA - F. Didot

Source by esaint


LSNN is an independent editor which relies on reader support. We disclose the reality of the facts, after careful observations of the contents rigorously taken from direct sources, we work in the direction of freedom of expression and for human rights , in an oppressed society that struggles more and more in differentiating. Collecting contributions allows us to continue giving reliable information that takes many hours of work. LSNN is in continuous development and offers its own platform, to give space to authors, who fully exploit its potential. Your help is also needed now more than ever!

In a world, where disinformation is the main strategy, adopted to be able to act sometimes to the detriment of human rights by increasingly reducing freedom of expression , You can make a difference by helping us to keep disclosure alive. This project was born in June 1999 and has become a real mission, which we carry out with dedication and always independently "this is a fact: we have never made use of funds or contributions of any kind, we have always self-financed every single operation and dissemination project ". Give your hard-earned cash to sites or channels that change flags every time the wind blows , LSNN is proof that you don't change flags you were born for! We have seen the birth of realities that die after a few months at most after two years. Those who continue in the nurturing reality of which there is no history, in some way contribute in taking more and more freedom of expression from people who, like You , have decided and want to live in a more ethical world, in which existing is not a right to be conquered, L or it is because you already exist and were born with these rights! The ability to distinguish and decide intelligently is a fact, which allows us to continue . An important fact is the time that «LSNN takes» and it is remarkable! Countless hours in source research and control, development, security, public relations, is the foundation of our basic and day-to-day tasks. We do not schedule releases and publications, everything happens spontaneously and at all hours of the day or night, in the instant in which the single author or whoever writes or curates the contents makes them public. LSNN has made this popular project pure love, in the direction of the right of expression and always on the side of human rights. Thanks, contribute now click here this is the wallet to contribute


Similar Articles / Explorin...sert RATS
from: astronomia
by: esaint