The Arkaroola Mars Robot Challenge Expedition was the latest of a series of expedition run by Mars Society Australia (MSA) since its inception in 2001. Destinations of previous expeditions have included the Pilbara, Woomera, and the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, as well as Arkaroola. The expedition ran from Friday 4th July to Sunday 20th July. There were some 30 participants in all, most stayed for the full two weeks.
The aims of the Expedition were:
Test a range of field robotic systems at Arkaroola with the goal of developing concepts for planetary operations, especially Mars. Participants include Murdoch University (WA), University of New South Wales, Mars Society India, and MSA.
Test control of remote robotic and human field operations at Arkaroola from centralised mission control run by Saber Astronautics from their operations centre in Sydney.
To test human field science capabilities while wearing simulated space suits, specially evaluating the ability of both scientists and non-scientists to recognise stromatolites at a test site.
Explore astrobiological and geobiological features of the Arkaroola region. This component of the expedition by a team from Macquarie University (NSW), focussing on the putative microfossils of veins in the Tapley Hill Formation and biomarkers of the oldest known sponge-stromatolite reefs in the Balcanoona Formation.
Work with teachers from NSW and South Australia, both on the expedition and those visiting Arkaroola, to better equip them in teaching of science.
To stimulate and inspire students and researchers in the disciplines of field robotics, planetary geology, astrobiology, and education through multidisciplinary interaction in the field.
Reach out to the public using lectures at Arkaroola and media contacts, emphasising the importance of planetary science, field robotics, and astrobiology to both the Australian and global community.
Wednesday 18th March 2015