NASA Opens Online Voting For Next Desert RATS Exploration Site

WASHINGTON -- NASA is inviting the public to choose an area in
northern Arizona where explorers will conduct part of the annual
Desert Research and Technology Studies, known as Desert RATS.

"Desert RATS is an annual test where NASA takes equipment and crews
into the field to simulate future planetary exploration missions,"
said Joe Kosmo, Desert RATS manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in
Houston. "We want the public to be a part of this."

From July 27 through Aug. 8, space enthusiasts can vote where to send
the Desert RATS team, which includes engineers, scientists and
astronauts. To cast your vote, visit:


The website features interactive panoramic images of lava, rocks and
desert for the public to choose as the most interesting destination
to explore. The location that receives the most votes will be
announced Aug. 16. Astronauts will visit that site to perform field
geology and collect rock samples.

The Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) at NASA's Ames Research Center at
Moffett Field, Calif., took the panoramic images of terrain and
geologic features in early 2009 at Black Point Lava Flow in Arizona.

"It is essential to involve the public in NASA's exploration program
to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists and
engineers," said IRG Director Terry Fong. "We want people of all ages
to be able to actively participate, contribute and collaborate in
meaningful ways to NASA's activities."

The Desert Rats 2010 mission also involves field testing two space
exploration vehicles, which could allow astronauts to spend two or
more weeks living, working, and traveling across different planets.
Astronauts will use two such vehicles to explore a lava flow and test
data collection methods, communications protocols, mission
operations, and advanced technology. Desert RATS is sponsored by
NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Desert RATS, visit:


For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


Source: NASA

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