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BASALT field team about to embark on field deployment to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Abstract: The BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains) research project is an on-going, multi-year program dedicated to conducting (non-simulated) field science research under simulated Mars mission conditions with the expressed goal of iteratively developing, implementing, and evaluating concepts of operations and supporting capabilities intended to enable and enhance human scientific exploration of Mars. The BASALT team is led by PI Darlene Lim (SST) with participation from Code S (R.Elphic, A. Sehlke, E. Rader, T. Colaprete, J. Heldmann, D. Santiago Materese, E. Fritzler, A.Cook, A. Mattioda) and Code T (T.Fong, J.Frank, M. Deans, T. Cohen, D. Lees) researchers. BASALT science is focused on addressing the following question: How do microbial communities and habitability correlate with the physical and geochemical characteristics of chemically altered basalt environments? To explore this question, the BASALT team chose two complementary basaltic environments to conduct field science, the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho, and flows along the East Rift Zone on the Big Island of Hawai’i to represent two different Mars analogs, respectively: 1) Present Mars (when basaltic volcanism is rare and most evidence for volcano-driven hydrothermal activity is relict), and 2) Early Mars (particularly Hesperian, when basaltic volcanism and interaction with water were widespread).


The BASALT team will be based out of the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) from Oct.30-Nov.21, 2017, and will be conducting a series of science-driven EVAs over that period. Our field activities will take place within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park system. BASALT is a unique analog program that fully integrates science into the development of ConOps and Capabilities for future human-robotic exploration of Mars. More information can be found on the project website at, including a list of the world-class research team members, and in the following recent publications:


Deans et al. 2017. Minerva: User-centered science operations software capability for future human exploration. 10.1109/AERO.2017.7943609.

Beaton et al. 2017. Extravehicular Activity Operations Concepts under Communication Latency and Bandwidth Constraints 10.1109/AERO.2017.7943570

Mirmalek 2017. Inspiring Innovation: On Low-Tech in High-Tech Development. Interactions, DOI: 10.1145/3085562


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