NASA's Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies) Team is back in the field in northern Arizona for a multi-week test of astronaut habitats and field vehicles for extended missions to other planets and asteroids.
The Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) team "evaluates technology, human-robotic systems and extravehicular equipment in the high desert near Flagstaff, Ariz. Field testing provides a knowledge base that helps scientists and engineers design, build and operate better equipment, and establish requirements for operations and procedures. The Arizona desert has a rough, dusty terrain and extreme temperature swings that simulate conditions that may be encountered on other surfaces in space."
The Desert RATS team is webcasting live from the 2011 analog field tests in Black Point Lava Flow. Other education and outreach activities are online.
Students and space fans young and old are invited to the Desert RATS Community Day from 1 – 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. It will be held at this year's Desert RATS test site, located 40 miles north of Flagstaff on U.S. Highway 89, less than one mile past the 454-mile marker, on the right.
The Desert RATS team is also testing an enhanced version of the Habitat Demonstration Unit (bottom right).