Dachstein Mars Simulation 2012Between 27Apr – 01May2012, a five day Mars analog field test took place at the Mammoth cave and the Giant Ice cave at the Dachstein region in Upper Austria coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum. During this test, the Aouda.X spacesuit simulator and selected geophysical and life-science related experiments were conducted.
Why in the Dachstein ice caves?
For a few years it is now known that cave systems exist on Mars. These systems offer stable environmental conditions and are one of the more interesting sites in the search for live in our solar system.
“Hardly any temperature changes, protection from radiation and even the prospect of stable water ice resources make those caves to one of the most logical places to find hints of life on Mars – if it has ever developed.”
, summarises project leader Dr. Gernot Grömer. The Austrian Space Forum is developing concepts and technologies which can be utilised during a manned space mission to the red planet.
The field test focussed on:
- Testing the space suit prototype Aouda.X in its newest configuration under realistic circumstances: for example for data transfer, mobility and remote science (where experiments are conducted under the supervision of a far away science team).
- Opportunity for the team to test the instruments under circumstances which are due to the area and the involved logistics very challenging. This also includes the usage of the georadar for the European Exomars-Mission, which will launch towards Mars in 2018.
All together 12 experiments were conducted by scientists from 10 countries and 3 continents (AT, G, I, F, USA, P, NL, H, NZ, PT). The Forum also organised the first ever Austrian Space-Tweetup (#marstweetup) on the media day. During this Tweetup 20 social media enthusiasts reported live from the fieldtests. Partners from NASA/JPL and New Zealand also participated.
In a compact report the scientific – technical highlights will be discussed as well as the logistical information and spectacular photo material which has been provided by the photographers Andreas Koehler and Katja Zanella-Kux.
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