Preparing for Mars expeditions on Svalbard

Mars rover on Svalbard. Photo: NASA

Mars rover on Svalbard. Photo: NASA

August 1-24, 2009 AMASE (Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition) will be taking place on Svalbard.

This expedition involves different researchers from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, NASA/JPL, ESA, Cornell University, the Earth and Planetary Exploration Services (Norway), DLR (germany), the University of Valladolid (Spain) and the University of Leeds (UK).

AMASE has established Svalbard as a test bed for life-detection technology to fly on future NASA and ESA ‘Search for Life’ missions to Mars (i.e., Mars Science Laboratory, EXOMars). These expeditions have run since 2003 and are managed by Hans E.F. Amundsen (EPX, Norway), Andrew Steele and Marilyn Fogel (Carnegie Institution of Washington), Pamela Conrad (NASA,JPL) and Liane G. Benning (University of Leeds).

This year it will include more than 30 scientists and engineers from different disciplines (microbiology, geology, biogeochemistry, robotics, etc.) carrying out very different activities: from testing equipment that eventually would fly in future Mars missions to study the conditions in which extremophiles thrive in glacial ice and develop and test protocols to search for past and present habitable environments on icy planets, basically work that needs to be done before sending the next new generation of landers/rovers over the next few decades.

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