Chris Looper is Chief Engineer of the EVA Branch of the Astronaut Office, and is splitting time as a test subject and as Traverse Director of Desert RATS 2010. We got an early start trying to get things situated in the rover before time to depart on the first traverse. The beginning of the test day in a field test is always very hectic. More at NASA Blogs
We're in the Second Life rover yard this morning, preparing for a D-RATS mixed reality event from the Arizona Black Rock volcanic field. We'll stream the live, real-world webcast into Second Life's social media 3-D world to create an immersive, participatory experience for the Second Life community. The rover yard in Second Life replicates NASA rover activities so users can share in NASA's compelling story of science and exploration. Mission concepts and technology models are available to everyone in this hands-on, distance-learning environment. Second Life residents are telepresent as they work together and communicate about the design, analysis and performance of space technology and events. This feeling of telepresence creates a collaborative bond that fosters engagement, conversation, feedback and learning. More at NASA Blogs
The GSW7000 connected to the Space Exploration Vehicle for charging interface tests at NASA JSC on 5 August 2010. Credit: onorbit.com [larger view]
Two power interface tests were conducted today at NASA JSC between the GSW7000 solar/wind generator system and NASA's Habitat Development Unit (HDU) and Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV). The SEV and the HDU, along with the GSW7000 will all participate in the Desert RATS 2010 activities later this month and into September.
More photos below
The GSW7000 with with solar panels fully deployed and wind generator and tower ready for full deployment to 100 feet. Credit; onorbit.com [larger view]
As was the case in 2009, Green Trail Energy has partnered with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education to provide logistical and technical support for Education and Public Outreach to be done at NASA's annual Desert RATS activity in Arizona in a few weeks. This activity is made possible by a Space Act Agreement between NASA and the Challenger Center.
Above is a panoramic view of Desert RATS hardware being assembled at NASA JSC on 4 August. In the foreground is a new habitat. To the right is the GSW7000 portable power system aka the "Power Droid". Credit; onorbit.com [Larger view] [much larger view]
The GSW7000, whose utilization is being donated to this activity by Green Trail Energy, can provide 2.4 KW of wind power and 4.4 KW of solar power. With its extendable 110 foot tower, it can also serve as a cell phone node and provide WiFi and WiMAX connectivity. This unit can be deployed by one person and be operational 30 minutes after arrival at a remote location. The entire unit compacts into the volume of a standard shipping container and can be pulled by a 1 ton pick up truck
More photos below
Challenger Center for Space Science Education partnered with Green Trail Energy to bring its portable solar/wind generator aka "Power Droid" (right side, tower) to the 2009 NASA Desert RATS exercise in Arizona. Both NASA's Chariot and Tri-Athelete rovers were recharged by the Power Droid. Desert RATS base camp is to the center and left. To the extreme left you can see the Lunar Electric Rover - its communications gear appears twice again (partially) due to panorama processing. You can view the full GigaPan panorama here at gigapan.org
NASA has concluded two weeks of technology development tests on two of the agency's prototype lunar rovers. The Desert RATS -- or Research and Technology Studies -- in the Arizona desert at Black Point Lava Flow allow NASA to analyze and refine technologies and procedures in extreme environments on Earth.