BASALT: BIOLOGIC ANALOG SCIENCE ASSOCIATED WITH LAVA TERRAINS
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
This presentation will provide an overview of the BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains) program. BASALT research addresses Science, Science Operations, and Technology. Specifically, BASALT is focused on the investigation of terrestrial volcanic terrains and their habitability as analog environments for early and present-day Mars. Our scientific fieldwork is conducted under simulated Mars mission constraints to evaluate strategically selected concepts of operations (ConOps) and capabilities with respect to their anticipated value for the joint human and robotic exploration of Mars.
a) Science: The BASALT science program is focused on understanding habitability conditions of early and present-day Mars in two relevant Mars-analog locations (the Southwest Rift Zone (SWRZ) and the East Rift Zone (ERZ) flows on the Big Island of Hawai’i and the eastern Snake River Plain (ESRP) in Idaho) to characterize and compare the physical and geochemical conditions of life in these environments and to learn how to seek, identify, and characterize life and life-related chemistry in basaltic environments representing these two epochs of martian history.
b) Science Operations: The BASALT team will conduct real (non-simulated) biological and geological science at two high-fidelity Mars analogs, all within simulated Mars mission conditions (including communication latencies and bandwidth constraints) that are based on current architectural assumptions for Mars exploration missions. We will identify which human-robotic ConOps and supporting capabilities enable science return and discovery.
c) Technology: BASALT will incorporate and evaluate technologies in to our field operations that are directly relevant to conducting the scientific investigations regarding life and life-related chemistry in Mars-analogous terrestrial environments. BASALT technologies include the use of mobile science platforms, extravehicular informatics, display technologies, communication & navigation packages, remote sensing, advanced science mission planning tools, and scientifically-relevant instrument packages to achieve the project goals.