Scientists sort out main challenges to sending astronauts to …
A world staff of researchers, which incorporates scientists from McMaster’s Faculty of Geography & Earth Sciences, NASA, and others, is tackling one of many largest issues of area journey to Mars: what occurs once we get there?
A sequence of articles revealed as we speak in a particular version of the journal Astrobiology, focuses on the scientific, logistical, operational and communications challenges of sending astronauts to deep area.
It’s the fruits of years of labor in NASA’s BASALT analysis program, or the Biologic Analog Science Related to Lava Terrains, which entails geologists, microbiologists, geneticists, engineers and astrobiologists from all around the world.
One of many largest challenges the staff is investigating is how greatest to conduct significant science in such harsh and harmful situations — the place time and sources are extremely restricted — and learn how to ship precious data again to Earth to allow enter from an Earth-based science help staff.
Researchers simulated mission situations on Mars in a number of eventualities which included conducting subject work within the unforgiving, Mars-like terrain of Craters of the Moon Nationwide Park Monument and Protect in Idaho and the Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park.
These areas are wealthy in basalt, a fine-grained rock much like rock discovered on Mars. Scientists hope samples can present essential clues within the ongoing seek for life on Mars.
Supported by funding from the Canadian House Company, Allyson Brady, a post-doctoral fellow in McMaster’s Faculty of Geography & Earth Sciences, who’s working along with her advisor Greg Slater on the challenge, is investigating natural biomarkers of microbial life related to the rocks.
“When astronauts finally go to Mars, we need to identify the best place to potentially find evidence of life and to target the kind of basalt rock samples which may contain a lot of organic material, for example,” explains Brady. “There will be many, many limitations on Mars so we need to consider the best way to conduct research and gather samples including getting timely feedback from science experts on Earth.”
Brady and NASA scientists are additionally contemplating the challenges of sharing data when groups are thousands and thousands of kilometres aside. For instance, they examined completely different types of communications — video and picture transmissions, voice messaging, texting utilizing specialised software program — between subject researchers, who wore communications packs as an astronaut may, and mission management.
“There can be a significant delay, as long as 20 minutes, between an astronaut on Mars and the team on earth,” explains Brady. “So we are working to optimize operations so astronauts don’t have idle time and the flow of information continues,” she says.
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