NASA News

Rachel Hoover
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
650-604-4789
rachel.hoover@nasa.gov

Julie Simard
Canadian Space Agency
450-926-4370
julie.simard@asc-csa.gc.ca

July 13, 2011
 
MEDIA ADVISORY : M11-51
 
 
Scientists Explore the Deep to Learn More about Life and Science
 
 
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA and the Canadian Space Agency invite the news media to join the international, multidisciplinary Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) team as it explores, studies and documents rare freshwater rock formations that thrive in Kelly Lake, British Columbia, Canada. The research project blends science and technology to advance knowledge of astrobiology and study life in an extreme environment using a combination of underwater vehicles and scuba divers.

It will take more than building rockets and selecting astronauts for humans to voyage to another planet; it also will take considerable planning and operations expertise. The PLRP's underwater environment presents a unique opportunity to integrate science and exploration field activities and serves as an analog to better understand the challenges associated with conducting scientific research 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 asteroids, Mars, and other destinations in space.

News media will have an opportunity to interview PLRP team members, including a NASA astronaut, from Sunday, July 17, 2011, to Saturday, July 23, 2011. News media interested in attending must contact Rachel Hoover at rachel.hoover@nasa.gov, as space is limited. News media also will be required to attend a safety and logistical session before gaining access to the PLRP Project field site at Kelly Lake.

This year at Kelly Lake, the team will launch new tools, such as the Exploration Ground Data Systems developed at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., to enable them to rapidly synthesize, manage and analyze large data sets, as well as plan and manage flight scheduling. These tools also will be used to manage the "delayed communications" research that will build 50-second communication delays between the submarine pilot and the mission operations crew to simulate what it is like conducting science on asteroids with human explorers.

The team also will use a new planning tool to better manage a dynamic and complex operations schedule, as well as gain a new degree of situational awareness about all field camp activities. To achieve this, human spaceflight operations planners from NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, will share their expertise and experience gained from supporting mission operations for the space shuttle and International Space Station. The operations planning team will support real-time operations by managing and distributing plans via a website developed by engineers at Ames called Score Mobile, to allow for re-planning when activities donĀ¹t go as scheduled, and provide situational awareness to the team.

This year's field team also includes a member from Google Inc, Mountain View, Calif., who will help the team evolve its use of mapping activities and develop cutting-edge data integration platforms based on Google Earth.

In addition to achieving its science and technology goals, this year's field test also will provide local teachers a unique opportunity to learn how a lake in their community will be used to train astronauts and scientists and prepare them for space exploration. The teachers will participate in hands-on field activity workshops so they can share what they learned with their students and inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts.

For more information about this year's Pavilion Lake Research Project, visit:

http://www.pavilionlake.com

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

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/analogs.html

 

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