Status Report

Mystery Dirt Pile at NASA JSC

By SpaceRef Editor
November 21, 2003
Filed under ,

Editor’s note: from “Do you know anything about a Mars simulation being constructed at the back
of JSC? It appears that they are building a mountain of dirt, and we heard that it is a Mars simulation for testing suits.”

Reply from JSC:

With a lot of “free fill” dirt collected over the past few years
resulting from a number of NASA-JSC on-site
construction projects and a small amount of funding for terrain
detail materials (sand and rock), efforts are
underway to add more realistic and representative features to the
current NASA-JSC EVA Remote Field
Demonstration Test Site (aka; “rock pile”).

The current 1/2 acre “rock pile” test site (representative of a
Mars-like strewn rock field) has been used
over the past three years to support joint teams composed of
NASA-JSC, Glenn Research Center, and
Ames technical personnel to conduct a series of “dry run” test
activites for advanced space suit mobility
studies that have included rover vehicle ergonomic studies,
human/robotic support system interactive task
activities, and advanced communications voice, video and data
transmission to mission control science
team members. The “dry run” testing of advanced technology
development hardware systems that
are being investigated for future potential planetary exploration in
a realistic (out of the lab) terrestrial analog
setting and representative of an extraterrestrial surface, has been
extremely helpful in defining and developing
engineering design insight towards problems that will be encountered
and need to be solved in support of
future human planetary surface exploration. The addition of the new
“hill” terrain feature which will also
incorporate various slopes and obstacles, will further enhance and
expand the capability to conduct more
realistic “dry run” evaluation activities in order to test the
robustness and functionalities of the various candidate
advanced technology systems. This outdoor facility has been
extremely useful to “shake, rattle, and roll”
the various system elements prior to and in preparation for
conducting more full-scale testing in actual remote
field test locations in the Mojave Desert, northern Arizona, and

The dream lives on !

SpaceRef staff editor.