US Mars Exploration Drone Scientists in Iceland

An international team of scientists led by Christopher Hamilton from Iceland's Holuhraun lava field will use Iceland's "Mars exploration concept of next generation," reports SpaceRef. SpaceRef. NASA has granted the team a grant of USD 3.1 million, entitled RAVEN, for the project. qatar seal

Located north of the glacier of Vatnajökull, the lava field in Holuhraun, Iceland, was formed in August 2014 by a month-long eruption which ended in February 2015. "This is one of the world's newest properties," Hamilton said when he described the barren landscape the RAVEN team attracted. "What makes it particularly interesting for us is that the lava was placed in a sandy area very similar to what certain Martian terrains appear to be."

In Iceland there is a long history of space-related training and research – NASA astronauts trained for the 1969 moon landing in the country in 1965 and 1967. In 2019, NASA returned to Iceland to test the space rover Sand-E to look for signs of old microbial life on Mars.

The RAVEN project includes a team of more than 20 scientists and engineers and presents a new space exploration approach. Previous robotic mission was to collect data from flybys, followed by a space-sample placed in orbit and then a lander (who studies the surface at a single location) and finally a rover built to move about the surface.

"With RAVEN, we add 'fly' to that list," said Hamilton. "Not only that – the whole concept really focuses on building new technology and procedures to work together on an extraterrestrial body for two robots. We will examine how a rover and a drone can work together to maximize the scientific performance of this mission."

Many of Mars' young volcanic terrains are too rough to be crossed by a rover, an enormous challenge when you explore the planet. With the help of a drone, RAVEN intends to overcome this obstacle. By flying ahead of the rover, the drone can scan the rover and collect samples that can not be reached by the rover itself.

"Volcanic terrain offers exciting exploration goals because of their potential to generate habitable hydrothermal systems to support or preserve microbial life," said Hamilton. "RAVEN would first make these places accessible," explained Hamilton.

Not only scientists but filmmakers have used the way Iceland's landscapes look like other planets. Films like Interstellar, Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, as well as several installations, have been depicting other worlds in Icelandic landscapes.

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