Press Release

Challenger Center Brings Unique Power System to 2009 NASA Desert RATS

By SpaceRef Editor
September 26, 2009
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Partners with Green Trail Energy During Technology Development Tests in Arizona

September 24, 2009, Alexandria, VA – Last week, Challenger Center for Space Science Education and its partner Green Trail Energy brought its portable solar/wind generator, a.k.a., “Power Droid,” to the 2009 NASA Desert RATS exercise in Arizona. This partnership was enabled by the Space Act Agreement in place between NASA and Challenger Center.

The main purpose behind this activity was to demonstrate that a large power and communications system could be deployed to a remote location to facilitate education and public outreach. In addition, when the “Power Droid” was not being used for education and public outreach, it was able to use its 5 kilowatt power and wind generation capability to recharge NASA’s Chariot and Tri-Athlete concept lunar rovers. For more information on Green Trail Energy please visit

The NASA Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies) activity, conducted annually in the Arizona desert at Black Point Lava Flow, allows NASA to analyze and refine technologies and procedures in extreme environments on Earth for use on the Moon and Mars. For more information on NASA’s Desert RATS and other analog activities please visit

During Desert RATS, Challenger Center Board of Directors Member Keith Cowing provided short tutorials to visiting students and the media as well as Internet-based coverage of activities at Desert RATS. For Challenger Center and other reports from the 2009 Desert RATS activity please visit

In addition to these reports, a large GigaPan panoramic image from Desert Rats and the “Power Droid” is available for browsing at: GigaPan images were also taken by Challenger Center Board of Directors members Scott Parazynski, MD, and Keith Cowing during their expedition to Mt. Everest earlier this year. Parazynski became the first astronaut to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. You can view the photos from their expedition here:

GigaPan is an automated camera system developed by NASA Ames Research Center and Carnegie Mellon University that allows precisely positioned images to be taken by a wide variety of cameras. These images are then stitched together by special software to produce immense panoramas that contain a staggering amount of detail. For more information on GigaPan please visit

Using space exploration as a theme and simulations as a vehicle, Challenger Center and its international network of 46 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, fosters a long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and inspires students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. To learn more, visit


Rob Cork, Director of Communications, 703-535-1361
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
300 N. Lee Street, Suite 301, Alexandria, VA 22314

SpaceRef staff editor.