The NASA Ames-led field projects titled FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science & Exploration, PI J. Heldmann) and BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains, PI D. Lim) recently (June 2016) conducted a joint deployment to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This deployment was an in-simulation mission to conduct bona fide planetary science research in volcanic terrains as analogs to the Moon and Mars.
The mission was conducted with a mission control center, science back room team, EVA astronauts conducting fieldwork, communications latencies and bandwidth constraints consistent with planetary missions, ground data systems for exploration planning and execution, etc. These field tests serve to generate new and cutting-edge scientific, operational, and technological capabilities to enable and inform the next generation of human-robotic planetary exploration missions. While in Idaho, the NASA Ames teams coordinated with the National Park Service (NPS) to host a joint NASA-NPS Community Day where hundreds of people came to Craters of the Moon to learn more about the NASA research being conducted at the field site in Idaho in preparation for future human and robotic exploration of the Solar System. The event was extremely successful and resulted in positive media coverage, social media postings, and generated continued goodwill between NASA and the local community and NPS. Science and exploration results from the deployment are now being assessed by the NASA teams and will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at professional meetings and conferences.