What better place to train for a mission to Mars than in a Middle Eastern desert? NASA plans to do just that as it partners with United Arab Emirati scientists to study extreme weather environments on Earth that may parallel conditions on the red planet.
The program, part of Spaceward Bound, teams NASA scientist with local students, teachers and scientists to study the astrobiology of the moon and Mars. The NASA Ames Research Center chose Abu Dhabi and the Arab Youth Venture Foundation as Spaceward Bound“™s 2011 destination and partners.
AYVF provides hands-on activities that enhance critical thinking skills in ages 6 to 21.
“In organizing Spaceward Bound 2011, a key feature of the program enabled us to augment NASA’s scientific team with leading scientists from the Arab world,” said Lisa Labonte, CEO of AYVF. “In doing so, we believe we’ve created a very robust team across various scientific disciplines to undertake this unique desert science field expedition.”
Spaceward Bound is sponsored by Lockheed Martin.
“NASA“™s Spaceward Bound 2011 in the UAE desert, is one activity Lockheed Martin supports that will build international partnerships and help ensure a pipeline of technical talent for the increasingly complex global security landscape,“ said Dr Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Lockheed Martin.
The program plans on studying surface transitions and microbial life from the sand dunes and gravel desert surfaces in Al Ain and Al Gharbia. The salt marsh fog in Sabkha will also be studied.
“Spaceward Bound is an outstanding NASA education program that brings together its scientists and science teachers,” said Pete S. Worden, center director of NASA Ames Research Center.