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Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research

Technology under Astrbiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP)

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Technology under Astrbiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP)

Future astrobiological research associated with Human and robotic solar system exploration requires the development of astrobiologically relevant, miniaturized instrumentation capable of extensive operations on lunar and planetary surfaces throughout the Solar System.

In collaboration with other Directorates and agencies, ASTEP supports investigations focused on exploring the Earth's extreme environments in order to develop a sound technical and scientific basis to conduct astrobiological research on other solar system bodies. ASTEP is a science-driven exploration program that results in new science and operational/technological capabilities to enable the next generation of planetary exploration. A unique feature that is central to ASTEP is the use of terrestrial field campaigns to further science and technology and NASA's exploration capabilities. Proposals that integrate science, technology, and field campaign objectives are given priority. In addition to science: - ASTEP seeks the development and application of technologies that support science investigations by enabling remote searches for, and identification of, life and life- related chemistry in extreme environments (including lunar and planetary surfaces). These technologies include, but are not limited to, sample acquisition and handling techniques, sample manipulation, and the use of mobile science platforms (including planetary rovers and astronauts) including techniques for autonomous operations and self-contained deployment systems. (Science instrument technology proposals are supported through ASTID). - ASTEP seeks systems-level terrestrial field campaigns designed to address astrobiology science goals and demonstrate and validate related technologies in remote and/or extreme environments on Earth. Field campaigns are conducted with complete systems and in a manner that approximates operations during an actual planetary mission, providing an opportunity to understand the performance, capabilities, and efficiencies associated with the tested systems while enabling human participants to gain operational experience with those systems in the field. The ASTEP R&A Lead estimates approximately 20% of the funded effort is technology-related ($1.8M of $9M in FY12)

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