NASA to practice mission scenarios for Artemis astronauts in Arizona desert

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 04-10-2022 07:29 IST | Created: 04-10-2022 07:29 IST
NASA to practice mission scenarios for Artemis astronauts in Arizona desert
Image Credits: NASA/Regan Geeseman
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This month, NASA will be conducting two field tests near Flagstaff, Arizona to practice mission scenarios for future Artemis astronauts in a simulated lunar surface environment.

The Joint Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program Test Team (JETT) Field Test #3 and Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) will provide crucial data and lessons learned as teams conduct operations in a simulated lunar environment to practice for the real event, the agency said on Monday.

Why Arizona?

NASA says the Arizona desert possesses many characteristics that are analogous to a lunar environment including challenging terrain, interesting geology, and minimal communications infrastructure - conditions Artemis astronauts will experience near the lunar South Pole.

JETT3, planned for October 4-9 near the S P Crater, will consist of four simulated moonwalks that follow operations planned for Artemis III, the first of the Artemis missions to land astronauts on the lunar surface. The primary focus of this analog mission (field tests in locations that have physical similarities to the extreme space environments) is to help NASA gain an understanding of the requirements for the unique lighting conditions in Moon's South Pole region.

To replicate the proper lighting conditions, the JETT3 simulated moonwalks will occur at night, and a simulated sun will produce lighting and shadows in the field.

D-RATS, on the other hand, will practice operations for future missions beyond Artemis III and will consist of three missions. Scheduled for October 11-22 at Black Point Lava Flow, near S P Crater, this mission will primarily focus on conducting pressurized rover operations - a key element of future Artemis missions starting with Artemis VII in 2030.

For the D-RATS mission, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will join NASA. Together, the two space agencies will gather data about the pressurized rover's design, cabin configuration, driving modes, timeline constraints, and mission operations to support potential design concepts for future pressurized rovers.

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