NASA MMAMA (SMD) funded Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) team completed the project’s first Phase 3 field deployment, which ran from June 12-27, 2014.
The field program involved a tightly integrated science and exploration program. Field research involved joint human and robotic underwater activities, which served to: 1) broaden our understanding of the driving factors behind microbialite morphogenesis in Pavilion Lake, and 2) provide a high-fidelity test-bed for the development of operational concepts and capabilities that will enable scientific productivity during future human planetary exploration. Science objectives focused on collecting microbialite samples to examine biosignature preservation in the carbonate record. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and science divers were tasked with the identification of high science value samples and associated sample collection. These activities were conducted with interactions with a remote Science Backroom Team, Exploration Ground Data Systems (xGDS) support (developed by Code T iRG Team), and 50 second and 5 min delayed communications to simulate two types of deep-space missions. Our science operations were designed, implemented and evaluated in partnership with collaborators from NASA JSC. The PLRP team has another field program planned for Summer 2015. Science and Exploration discussions will begin in late July 2014 to enable data publication and planning for the 2015 field season.
Photo credit: Dr. Steve Squyers