2016 GHOST Rover Tests: Day 3

Ruby Rover "recharging her solar cells."

Ruby Rover “recharging her solar cells.”

Thursday was our last day in the field, and our science teams had only a few morning hours to wrap up their investigations.  Becca, Ruby, Sarah, and John were sent out to gather the last bits of data and cached samples for each team.  By mid-morning, the science teams had most of the data they wanted to collect, and were spending the bulk of their time drawing strat columns and refining their interpretations.  Meanwhile, the rovers and instruments “recharged their solar cells” after several days of hard work.

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2016 GHOST Rover Tests: Day 2

The team awoke fresh faced and ready to get back into their traverses on day 2. After a chat around breakfast, coffee, and stick throwing for our resident Martian dogs, Ruby, Becca, Sarah, and John prepared themselves to head back out and do their science teams’ bidding, and the TIGER team headed out to finish their in-situ investigations of the field site.

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2016 GHOST Rover Tests: Our Tools

Instruments onboard the MSL rover in Gale Crater (Image: JPL/NASA)

Instruments onboard the MSL rover in Gale Crater        (Image: JPL/NASA)

While we are out in the field pretending to be Mars rovers, we need to be able to gather the same kind of data that we acquire on Mars.  There are many impressive instruments on both Spirit and Opportunity – the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) – as well as Curiosity – the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL).  For this week, we are limited to those instruments which we are capable of taking out into the field, and many of the MER and MSL instruments do not have field-portable analog instruments here on Earth.


Fortunately, we have two field-portable instruments that are excellent analogs for those on board the current Mars rovers:

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2016 Utah GHOST “Rover” Tests: Our Mission

On April 18th, a group of us will descend on a mystery location in Utah where will will spend five days roaming around the desert pretending to be Mars rovers for the GeoHueristic Operational Strategies Testing (GHOST) program.  These rover tests have no actual rovers, as those are extremely expensive and logistically difficult to get out in the field.  Rather, we have people pretending to be the rovers, and others (myself included) acting as the instruments onboard those rovers.


This year’s objective is to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of utilizing a walkabout approach to investigate the field site, instead of the commonly-used linear traverse.

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