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Science Investigation


... archive for post-mission to be used by the science community abroad; ... T, P, RH, UVA-UVB: RST Identified possible weather patterns and moisture sources ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Science Investigation

Science Investigation
  • Life in the Atacama 2004Science Technology
  • Nathalie A. CabrolNASA Ames

Outline of Presentation
  • Science Objectives and Investigation Plan
  • Science Activities since 12/03
  • Overall Science Goals
  • Review of Science Questions and Objectives
  • Summary of Year 01 Campaign Results
  • Introduction to Year 02 Field Campaign

Science Activities since 12/03
Overall Science Mission A real science question
on Earth with critical applications to Mars
  • Understand the Atacama as an habitat for life
    (large NASA and ASTEP effort)
  • Document the limits of life on Earth
  • Test the capacity of a science payload to detect
    and characterize life in one of the most desertic
    terrestrial environments for application to Mars
  • Document the current detection limit of life on
    Earth (robotic vs. human) and collect metrics and
    data for Mars exploration (new vision)

Overall Science Mission A real science question
on Earth with critical applications to Mars
  • Remote ScienceTest astrobiological exploration
    strategies and train planetary scientists to
    benefit future Mars mission operations
  • Telepresence Test astrobiological exploration
    strategies for the robotic exploration of extreme
    terrestrial environments
  • Make genuine discoveries and contribute to the
    body of knowledge about the Atacama and life in
    terrestrial extreme environments
  • Generate a scientific archive that will
    summarize the results of this campaign (e.g.,
    sample library)

Science Question Can we unambiguously identify
the signatures of life remotely?
  • Goal 1 Establish the presence of life in situ
  • Goal 2 Establish the gradient of life in the
    Atacama Desert as an Analog to Mars
  • No speculation
  • Converging evidence from Science Payload
  • Is unambiguous realistic? If not,
  • How to increase the probability of detecting
    life signature?

Objective 1
  • Map habitats and understand past and/or present
    environmental conditions associated to life
  • Morphology
  • Geology
  • Environment
  • Texture, Physical, and Elemental Properties of
    Rocks and Soils
  • Properties and structure of the subsurface
    (e.g., H2O)

Objective 2
  • Document how life modifies its environment
  • Identify extant/extinct biosignatures, such as
    patterns, symmetries, colors associated with life
  • Identify the geosignatures of life (e.g.,
    constructs, biomineralization)
  • Characterize the survival strategies derived from
    the interaction between life and environment

Objective 3.1
  • Analyze Samples
  • During the mission (science field team, see
    ground-truth, E. A. Grin)
  • Post-mission (Lab analysis)
  • searching for life full array
  • Comparison with Remote Science Team (RST)
  • Identify limitations, missed habitats and life
    (or lack thereof) and try to establish possible

Objective 3.2
  • Generate a Science Database
  • Establish a rigorous and consistent sampling
    method to create a lasting database archives of
    the Atacama bioactivity.
  • Identify database structure and content outline
    prior to the mission (see ground-truth, E. A.
  • Organize and maintain a web-based archive that
    will become a scientific archive for post-mission
    to be used by the science community abroad
  • Exchange information with other groups working
    in the Atacama (e.g., McKay) and update the
  • Turn it over to NASA after the end of the

Objective 4
  • Develop New Remote Operations Tools That Improve
    Science Data Collection, Access, and Facilitate
    Interpretation and Sharing Between Science Theme
    Groups -STGs- (see Coppin, Wagner, et al.,)
  • Test science tools during training sessions
  • Demonstrate tool use during the Atacama mission
  • Promote tools to NASA for use in future planetary

Objective 5
  • Understand the Rover Science Mission Process to
    Improve the Operational Efficiency and
    Productivity of Future Missions (see Thomas et
    al., )
  • (How Mission Scientists Use the Data to Generate
    Observations and Hypotheses? How Observations
    Lead to New Sequences ? Science Conclusions)
  • Monitor the RSTs activity during the Atacama
  • Establish ties between interpretation challenges
    to specific data types and interface tools
  • Understand better the process that turns raw
    data into scientific conclusions
  • Group Theme Level
  • RST Level

Objective 6
  • Publish the Science Results
  • 02 Campaign High-Priority
  • Submit papers within 6 months of end of mission
    and agree on publication policies with
    satellite projects
  • Science or Nature, one or a series of papers on
    the theme of searching life with automated
    vehicles (transition between MER and MSL).
    Contact editors
  • Astrobiology or Journal of Geophysical Research.
    Contact the editor for a possible Special Issue
    to be published in a year or so. Could include
  • Our project results
  • Other Atacama scientists papers. McKay has agreed
    on the principle and is highly favorable to the

Objective 7
  • Education and Public Outreach
  • Develop a project that conveys the excitement of
    exploration and discovery to the general public,
    and classroom. (see P. Coppin)
  • Project is related to Mars Exploration and Zoe
    Rover field campaign

Summary of Year 01 Campaign Results Geology /
  • How did the RST perceive the Atacama through

Very-High RST Interpretation Accuracy Level
Compared to Ground-Truth
SPI MER Equivalent Camera
Year 01 Habitats
  • 3 out of 4 hypothesized habitats were observed by
    the RST
  • Habitat Type 1 Saline Environment -- hydrated
    sulfate, possibly gypsum (confirmed for sample
  • Habitat Type 2 Desert Pavement/Alluvial fan
  • Habitat Type 3 Soil
  • Year 01 Campaign could not confirm unambiguously
    the presence of chlorophyll-based life.
    Instrument suffered from stray reflecting light
    entering the camera creating artifacts.
  • Necessity of more than one sensor to confirm a

Year 01 Environment
Sol 3 pan 115-R
Sol 3 pan 163-R
Sol 3 pan 176-R
Sol 3 pan 210-R
T, P, RH, UVA-UVB RST Identified possible
weather patterns and moisture sources
Year 01 Mineralogy Vis/NIR
Mineralogical Environment
Year 01 Biology Fluorescence
  • 24 samples acquired, 12 indicated a weak
    chlorophyll feature from spectral analysis. Only
    1 strong (sample 3)
  • No fluorescence data was sufficient to confirm
    the unambiguous presence of chlorophyll-based
  • Instrument capable of detecting very low light
  • Dyes necessary to confirm life? (see Waggoner et

Year 02 Science Campaign Introduction
  • Building on Year 01 Methods and Results both for
    science and technology. Ongoing exploration
  • Two exploration sites, which will allow the RST
    to continue mapping the gradient of life and
    habitats in the Atacama
  • More payload instruments integrated onboard the
  • Some new instruments
  • Mars and Earth exploration strategies