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AMADEE-18 Mars Analog Field Simulation To Be Held in Dhofar, Oman

The AMADEE-18 test site in Dhofar, Oman. Photograph courtesy of the Austrian Space Forum.

In February 2018, the Austrian Space Forum – in partnership with the Oman National Steering Comittee for AMADEE-18 – will conduct an international Mars analog field simulation in the Dhofar region of Oman. Directed by a Mission Support Centre in Austria, a small field crew will conduct experiments preparing for future human Mars missions in the fields of engineering, planetary surface operations, astrobiology, geophysics and geology, life sciences and other disciplines.

Conducting field research in a representative environment is an excellent tool to gain operational experience and understand the advantages and limitations of remote science operations on other planetary bodies. This field mission is designed to be:

  • an opportunity to study equipment, procedures, and workflows under Mars analog conditions with  humans-in-the-loop;
  • a platform for testing life-detection or geophysical techniques, terrain tests for rovers and increase the situational awareness of remote support teams;
  • studying the test site as a model region for Martian deserts and extreme life;
  • serving as an outreach platform to enhance the visibility of planetary sciences.

Baseline

The actual field mission will take place during four weeks in February 2018. Based upon twelve preceding Mars analog missions, the Austrian Space Forum has established a mission support infrastructure, trained and certified flight controllers, and field crew members as well as a programmatic roadmap to implement a coherent strategy.

Field activities will be scheduled through a “flight plan”, supported by a remote science team and directed by flight controllers at the Mission Support Centre in Austria. An expert media team will ensure high international public visibility.

Mission Milestones 

  • June 30, 2017: Deadline experiment proposal submission;
  • July 15, 2017: Announcement of results of the experiment selection;
  • May-December 2017: AMADEE-18 mission-specific training;
  • February 1-28, 2018: AMADEE-18 Mission;
  • May 25-27, 2018 (tbd): AMADEE-18 Science Workshop.

The AMADEE-18 Test Site in Oman

The deserts of Dhofar, the largest governorate in the Sultanate of Oman, have a resemblance to various Mars surface features, such as sedimentary structures dating back to the Paleocene and Eocene periods, salt domes of the South Oman Salt Basin, and ancient river beds. The test site offers a wide range of sand and rocky surfaces combined with a broad variability in inclination.

The nearest major city is Salalah, and expected temperatures at the test site in February typically range between 16-27°C with less than 10 mm of precipitation.

The AMADEE-18 Mars Mission Announcement of Opportunity for Experiments can be found at the link here.

Original published at: https://spacewatch.global/2017/04/amadee-18-mars-analog-field-simulation-held-dhofar-oman/

 

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