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September 25, 2009

NASA Completes Robotics Tests in California

NASA announced that it has completed two weeks of technology development tests on two of its prototype lunar rovers that will help it with future research.  
 
The Desert RATS – also known as “Research and Technology Studies” -- in the Arizona desert at Black Point Lava Flow helped NASA to analyze and refine technologies and procedures in extreme environments on Earth.

“These tests provide us with crucial information about how our cutting edge vehicles perform in field situations approximating the moon,” said Rob Ambrose, Human Robotic Systems project lead at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We learn from them, then go back home to refine the technology and plan the next focus of our research.”


The annual studies featured an intensive, simulated 14-day mission.
 
Two crew members, an astronaut and a geologist, lived for more than 300 hours inside NASA's prototype Lunar Electric Rover. The explorers scouted the area for features of geological interest, then donned spacesuits and conducted simulated moonwalks to collect samples. The crew also docked to a simulated habitat, drove the rover across difficult terrain, performed a rescue mission and made a four-day traverse across the lava.

Throughout the test, the crew posted updates via “Twitter” and posted pictures and video online.

Marisa Torrieri is a RobotXworld Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri


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