2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM

Nevada's EPSCoR Project: Exploring Planetary Surfaces, Earth, Moon, and Mars

CALVIN, Wendy1, HARRIS, Fred2, LANCASTER, Nick3, SUN, Henry4, STEINBERG, Spencer5 and FRITSEN, Chris3, (1)Geological Sciences & Eng, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV 89557, (2)Computer Sci. & Eng, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, (3)Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, (4)Desert Research Institute, 755 E. Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89119, (5)Department of Chemistry, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 South Maryland Parkway, Box 4003, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4003, wcalvin@unr.edu

The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) was recently awarded funding from NASA's EPSCoR program to develop a broad strategy for field, remote and virtual exploration using planetary analog sites in Nevada and California. The work brings together researchers at the two state Universities, UNR and UNLV with faculty at both northern and southern offices of the Desert Research Institute (DRI). The program will integrate a variety of remote and in-situ observations at analog sites, rendering them in an immersive visualization facility (CAVE). Field experiments are planned to understand links between microbiology and mineralogy in desert environments as well as geomorphology and sediment transport at the sites. Data collection and synthesis for immersive visualization will be provided for Lunar Crater Volcanic Field, NV and in the Mojave Desert, CA. The development of a comprehensive database of remote and field data will allow students and researchers to interrogate data correlations across a variety of spatial scales and sensing techniques. Hypotheses regarding site evolution and modification can be developed and virtual navigation and planning for robotic exploration can be developed and contrasted with actual field experience. New field experiments at these analog sites will be performed, emphasizing links between the morphology and mineralogy, particularly in relation to geomorphic controls on endolithic communities. Aeolian processes and sediment transport which impact robotic traversability will also be explored with new in-situ measurements relating wind speeds to saltation and erosion. The experience gained at these terrestrial sites will be expanded to planetary environments through data acquired by the current suite of Mars orbiters and rovers, with future plans to integrate data sets relevant to lunar exploration.