Jay (brian1789) wrote,

Away to South America for a month...

After a few years of reproposing it, last March I received notice that my combined field science/drill/rover tech demo project had won funding. We will deploy and test to the Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest place on Earth, to study ways of drilling down to and detecting microbes in an environment analogous in many ways to parts of Mars. It will culminate after 4 years with a simulated autonomous rover mission, with a drill, arm, and carrying 4 life-detection instruments.

This year is the first set of tests... no rover, 2 of 4 instruments, an earlier model of Mars-prototype drill (test software and generate samples to test instruments) and a lot of baseline field science. Over the past 6 weeks, I've been largely absorbed in the logistics of getting 24 people to a remote location, with test equipment, dealing with hazmat, customs, safety, food, water, portapotties, etc.

Yesterday I left California behind and headed south, overnight into Santiago this morning. I will head tomorrow to Antofagasta and the desert. Testing and field science will run to the 24th. Then some personal time off (Galapagos) and business at JSC in Houston will mean I won't get home until March 6, gone a month.

Oddly, once I got on the plane, I relaxed... as though I'd done all I could and now had to just go with it.
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