Recently in the Analog Studies Category

I am currently in the high arctic sitting (Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, Canada) in a tent next to the Stolz Diapir spring site at Whitsunday Bay.

The Everest tracked vehicle is here with a nice large sled in the back and a cabin attached.

We have completed our work here at Lake Obersee, accomplishing most all of our objectives despite a late start due to stormy weather.

We made the first dives beneath the thick, perennial ice (3.6 m) of Lake Obersee yesterday.  

We have had pretty nice weather the last two days so we have taken advantage of it with a fair amount of work. Today we put up the tripod that will support the new met station I am deploying here at Lake Obersee.

The weather today was quite nice. While a bit windy, it was sunny all day which was a nice change of pace.

Today's weather is a major improvement over what we have seen the last two weeks while in Antarctica.

My research team and I are now camped on the shores of Lake Obersee, a few km NE of Lake Untersee in the mountains of Queen Maud Land.

The autonomous, solar-powered Zoe, which became the first robot to map microbial life during a 2005 field expedition in Chile's Atacama Desert, is heading back to the world's driest desert this month on a NASA astrobiology mission led by Carnegie Mellon University and the SETI Institute. This time, Zoe is equipped with a one-meter drill to search for subsurface life.

Presenter: Peter T. Doran (University of Illinois, Chicago)

May 21, 2012 11:00 AM Pacific

The extreme cold and dry environment of the McMurdo Dry Valleys have made it one of the better analogs on Earth for Martian environments, present and past, and the thick ice ice-covered lakes have been used as analogs for aquatic environments on icy worlds. In fact, some of the earliest field research performed in the dry valleys was a direct result of the Mariner 4 space probe which orbited Mars in July 1965. Images returned from this mission for the first time showed Mars to be a cratered, cold and dry planet. The revelations from Mariner 4 drove Norm Harowitz from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to be perhaps the first to consider the dry valley soils as suitable models for what the surface of Mars may be like.

Robert Falcon Scott was the first to explore this region in 1903 and pronounced it lifeless. He was only there for a brief time and so can't be blamed for his quick judgment. Modern science has shown how the dry valleys actually offer a habitat for some hearty organisms. Much of the knowledge build up about this ecosystem has come from both NSF and NASA-funded science. The NSF established a Long Term Ecological Research site here in 1992 and numerous NASA astrobiology projects have advanced science in the Dry valleys before and since. This talk will look back at some seminal work carried out under the auspices of the NASA Exobiology Program and summarize results of some recent astrobiological research in the dry valleys, focusing on the perennial ice-covered, closed-basin lakes.

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