M.A.R.T.E. Chronicle Field Site
The MARTE Mission Simulation 2005 began on August 10th with the drilling assessment conducted at Las Zarandas. While all exposed surfaces at this site looked promising, we were quite surprised to find nothing but soft dark ash-like sand under the 25cm rocky crust. Subsequently, we chose the familiar location atop the mine pit at Pena de Hierro because of the accessibility and interesting geology.
Image Left: Drilling at Las Zarandas.
The bulk of the MARTE equipment -a total of about 5000lb- started arriving to Morón Air Base the week of August 15. The Transportation Office personnel at Morón AB were extremely helpful, professional, and key in helping our cargo transit in-country without problems. MARTE again enlisted the support of INSERSA for heavy lifting and terrain preparation.
Image Left: Terrain preparation for field setup. (No trees were hurt in the making. Seriously.)
The current on-going construction in the Peña del Hierro, as well as the natural geography and remote location of the drilling site, posed a challenge to most truck drivers providing services. However, after a few bent rear bumpers, scratched fuel tanks, pavement scrapes, "challenged" egos, and some landscaping, everything came together.
Image Left: Unloading crates in the MARTE warehouse.
First, the service module (DCSM) was transported to the site and partially assembled, a task easier said than done in temperatures above 40oC. Immediately after, the tent was erected and the assembly of the lander continued. The Centro de Astrobiologia's communica-tions truck, driven by a very skilled gentleman that had no trouble negotiating the obstacles to the site in the darkness, showed up at the mountain at 03:00 hours on the 22nd of August. Several hours later the satellite link was established; a tremendous effort from the CAB folks.
Image Left: Before image
By the next day the DCSM was completely assembled and prepared for subsystem integration, beginning with the borehole inspection system (BHIS) drill, core sample handling system (CSHS) and remote sensing instruments (RSI). The site has undergone a complete evolution to a fully functional and "habitable" working area. Everybody was instrumental in making it happen; thank you MARTE team for your outstanding effort, support, endurance, and performance under such challenging conditions. Buen trabajo MARTE!
Image Left: After image
NASA Ames Research Center, Jhony Zavaleta