Desert Research and Technology Studies 2005 Report 2006-01-2138
During the first two weeks of September 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC) Advanced Extravehicular Activity (AEVA) team led the field test portion of the 2005 Research and Technology Studies (RATS). The Desert RATS field test activity is the culmination of the various individual science and advanced engineering discipline areas year-long technology and operations development efforts into a coordinated field test demonstration under representative (analog) planetary surface terrain conditions. The purpose of the RATS is to drive out preliminary exploration concept of operations EVA system requirements by providing hands-on experience with simulated planetary surface exploration extravehicular activity (EVA) hardware and procedures. The RATS activities also are of significant importance in helping to develop the necessary levels of technical skills and experience for the next generation of engineers, scientists, technicians, and astronauts who will be responsible for realizing the goals of the Constellation Program.
The 2005 Desert RATS was the eighth RATS field test and was the most systems-oriented, integrated field test to date with participants from NASA field centers, the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), industry partners, and research institutes. Each week of the test, the 2005 RATS addressed specific sets of objectives. The first week focused on the performance of surface science astro-biological sampling operations, including planetary protection considerations and procedures. The second week supported evaluation of the Science, Crew, Operations, and Utility Testbed (SCOUT) prototype rover and its sub-systems. Throughout the duration of the field test, the Communications, Avionics, and Infomatics pack (CAI-pack) was tested. This year the CAI-pack served to provide information on surface navigation, science sample collection procedures, and EVA timeline awareness. Additionally, 2005 was the first year since the Apollo program that two pressurized suited test subjects have worked together simultaneously. Another first was the demonstration of recharge of cryogenic life support systems while in-use by the suited test subjects. The recharge capability allowed the simulated EVA test duration to be doubled, facilitating SCOUT proto-type rover testing. This paper summarizes Desert RATS 2005 test hardware, detailed test objectives, test operations and test results.