Dr. Darlene Lim, one of BAER’s most honored scientists, will host the first scientific meeting for a new NASA program to investigate the habitability of volcanic terrain on Mars. The June meeting at NASA Ames is the first gathering of the scientists involved in this NASA-sponsored study known as BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains), for which Dr. Lim is the Principal Investigator.
During BASALT, scientists will conduct fieldwork in two areas: the Southwest and the East Rift Zone flows on the Big Island of Hawai’i and the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho, areas deemed to have high fidelity to some Martian environments. The work will proceed under simulated Mars mission constraints so that scientists may strategically evaluate selected concepts of operations and capabilities that will be invaluable for joint human and robotic exploration of Mars.
The study will examine habitability conditions on early and present-day Mars. By comparing the physical and geochemical conditions of life in these environments, scientists will learn how to seek, identify, and characterize life and life-related chemistry in basaltic environments that represent the two epochs of Martian geological history.
Another BASALT objective is to evaluate supporting technologies in the field that are directly relevant to conducting the human-led investigations regarding life and life-related chemistry in Mars-analogous terrestrial environments. These technologies include mobile science platforms, extravehicular informatics, display technologies, and communication and navigation packages.
The first reconnaissance deployments for the study will be in August (Idaho) and November (Hawai’i). The study will continue until June 2019.