Brandi Dean
Johnson Space Center, Houston
RELEASE : J10-018
Media Invited to NASA’S Desert-RATS Practice Run in Houston
HOUSTON – Area reporters are invited to experience life on an extraterrestrial surface, without leaving their own hometown.

The engineers, scientists and technicians who travel annually to Arizona for a simulated exploration mission as part of the Desert RATS – or Research and Technology Studies – tests are preparing for the September field tests by putting on a practice run in the Johnson Space Center Planetary Analog Test Site – also known as the rock yard. Reporters who won’t be able to make it to the field tests in the desert can see the next best thing between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Interested news media representatives should e-mail Brandi Dean at by noon on Aug. 10.

The Desert RATS tests offer a chance for a NASA-led team of researchers from across the country to come together to conduct technology development research. The location of the actual field tests is chosen for its similarity to possible destinations for future planetary exploration missions.

That allows those planning the missions and designing the equipment to be used during them to determine what works and what doesn’t, before astronauts travel hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of miles from home. The practice runs in NASA’s rock yard – which include a large hill, a rock- and boulder-strewn field and three simulated impact craters – allow the engineers and scientists a chance to make sure they’re ready for the tests before they’ve traveled thousands of miles from home.

The NASA hardware that will be seen during the practice run includes:

  • Space Exploration Vehicles – a pair of rovers that astronauts will live in for seven days at a time in Arizona.
  • Habitat Development Unit/Pressurized Excursion Module – a simulated habitat where the rovers can dock to allow the crew room to perform experiments or deal with medical issues.
  • And a suite of new geology sample collection tools, including a self-contained GeoLab glove box for conducting in-field analysis of various collected rock samples.
The media opportunity to be held in Arizona at the test site will be on Sept. 15. More details on that will be available soon.

For more information on the Desert RATS program, visit:

You can also follow Desert RATS activities via Twitter at:

For more information on other NASA missions and programs, visit:

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