Transcripts of RATS8

[ music ] Jake: Desert RATS stands for Desert Research and Technology Studies This is a group of engineers and scientists Jim: We are looking to test out new concepts, procedures, equipment, like rover concepts, to see how they work in the field environment Jake: The team tests these technologies, to make sure that on future human space flight missions, we will be able to do science as best as we can. Jim: A geoiogist from Goddard is going to be in each one of those rovers; myself and Jake Bleacher. Jake: That's something NASA has never done: two human rovers at the same time. So, we are really trying to develop how do you use these assets at the same time, and interesting things that you might not think about are your communications. So, you might have 4 astronauts talking at the same time to a mission control or science back room. Jim: It's just like running a real mission. Try and think about the Apollo missions to the moon. You had the astronauts on the moon and the mission control, and there was a science back room you didn't hear about, and the astronauts were getting information from them. Jake: Arizona has a very good climate for these types of analog studies. you have pretty much open plains and you have a lot of geological features that are analogous to to places on the moon and on Mars. In the morning, we go through a briefing, to make sure we know what we are doing for that day. And the day is composed of executing that plan. So, driving the rover from stop to stop. While we are driving, we conduct geologic observations. We send that information back to science back rooms, and when we get to stops, we actually get out of the rover and got on Extra Vechicular Activity or EVA. Jim: Those stations are on the order of about 40 minutes, and 40 minutes goes by very quick. When you get to a brand new area, the first thing you have to do is describe the geology as concisely and detailed as possible for the people in the back room, figure out where you're going to take your samples you want to collect. So, you are figuring all this stuff out, at the same time, you've got to keep the status of all your systems. I mean, you've got this timeline that's running, and your getting briefed on how much time you have left. You know, you've go to move over here if you don't get this done, or if some equipment fails and you have to scrap the whole EVA and get back in the rover and drive to the next station. Jake: You get a lot of insight as to what a mission might actually be like. For a scientist like me, I come in there and I provide my input as a field geologist, How does a field geologist use all that equipment - but it is fun to talk with your astronaut crew member, because you spend a lot of time with them in the rover during your week-long mission. You get to chat about what it is like to be an astronaut. Hear their stories about the missions they've been on. Jim: We have a lot of hard-working scientists and engineers behind the scenes to make these things to be able to pull this off. It is an honor and a privledge being a crew member. Jake: That's really what working for NASA is: testing new technology, providing input back to the engineers, to make sure that we build the best equipment, so that when we do send people somewhere, they have the best of what NASA has to offer. [ beeping ]