From: Challenger Center for Space Science Education
Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010
NASA will conduct its annual Desert RATS activity in northern Arizona later this summer. Challenger Center will be participating once again as it did last year.
Desert RATS (Desert Research and Technology Studies) is an agency-wide activity whereby NASA "takes equipment and personnel 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."
This year NASA is offering the public a chance to help pick the location where Desert RATS will conduct its activities. From July 27 through August 8 you can cast your vote at http://desertrats2010.arc.nasa.gov.
This 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 August 16.
In 2009, Challenger Center, in partnership with Green Trail Energy, Inc., brought a large solar and wind power system to Desert RATS. Formally known as the GSW-7000, this device is a self-contained portable trailer that is capable of generating up to 4.4 kilowatts of power from the sun and 2.4 kilowatts of power from wind energy.
As was the case last year, the GSW-7000 will be used to power education and public outreach activities that the Challenger Center will conduct at Desert RATS under its educational Space Act Agreement with NASA. Last year, the GSW-7000 was used on a trial basis to recharge batteries on several of NASA's robotic vehicles. That activity will continue this year as well.
Upgrades are currently under way to add a second set of solar panels to the GSW-7000 so as to add several more kilowatts of generating capacity. In addition, advanced communications systems will also be added so as to allow the unit to serve as a totally self-contained communications node.
Specific dates for Challenger Center activities at Desert RATS are still being finalized. It is expected that these activities will be in full operation between September 8 - 15. Further information will be announced when it becomes available.
Meanwhile, you can get an idea as to what will be going on at Desert RATS by looking at stories, videos, and images from the 2009 Challenger Center activities at http://www.onorbit.com/search/node/desert+rats
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