Selected Articles from the
Editor: Terry Hancock
OASIS Brings Science to Final Agamemcon
For the fourth year in a row, the Los Angeles NSS chapter
provided a broad array of space and science programs at the Agamemcon science
and science fiction convention over June 8 through June 10. Speakers from
NASA, the space industry, academia, and the space activist
community informed and amused the Burbank audience throughout the weekend.
OASIS delivered over twenty hours of programming and activities
at the last of the Agamemcon conventions, as well as staffing
its large space information booth.
Mars Leads Programs
Mars exploration and settlement was a prominent theme in this year's programming
lineup, with four separate programs on the Red Planet. Craig Peterson
of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) spoke on the advanced
technologies under development to explore the Martian environment, including:
- Advanced communications networks to enhance data links to robotic probes.
- Improved propulsion systems to increase the mass delivered to Mars.
- New power systems to increase the range and performance of rovers and
- New landing systems to ensure safe, soft delivery to the surface.
- New ways to travel on the surface and in the atmosphere of Mars to gain
information unavailable to orbiting sensors.
Bob Gounley, also of JPL, gave a talk on planetary
rovers, their features and operations. The talk featured a demonstration
of the new OASIS Mars simulator rover on the miniature
Marscape. Audience members operated the robot via remote control, using the
on-board video camera to guide them around artificial Martian rocks and sand.
Gounley discussed the Mars Pathfinder rover, which landed in
1997, as well as the Mars Odyssey rover now en route to the
fourth planet and other planned rovers. He discussed the difficulties in
operating and navigating a rover with limited communications coverage, the
types of sensors used on rovers, the power and propulsion demands of a mobile
system, and the idiosyncracies of working in the Martian environment.
|Model of an operating Mars Rover. Photo courtesy Steve
Webmaster's Note: Two galleries of AgamemCon V photographs are available in the Gallery section.
Both Peterson and Gounley spoke on the upcoming series of Mars exploration
missions planned for the next decade. NASA, as well as
the Europeans, Japanese, and others are building a gamut of systems bound
for that planet. These include orbiters, rovers, surface penetrators, Martian
satellite explorers, soil samplers, aircraft and balloons to learn more about
our planetary neighbor.
NASA has acknowledged that the ultimate goal of its Mars
program is to send humans to its surface. Unfortunately, it is doing little
in the near-term to move the human program forward. To fill this gap, a number
of private groups, including the Mars Society and the Space
Frontier Foundation, have been pushing a humans-to-Mars agenda. John
McKnight, former executive director of the Mars Society, spoke on the
work underway in the Canadian arctic to simulate a human base on that planet.
Dubbed the Flashline Mars Station, the privately financed facility
on Devon Island includes a habitat, living quarters, life support systems,
simulated manned rovers, power and other systems necessary for humans to
survive in a remote, hostile environment.
[Read Part Two of the AgamemCon V Report]
File translated from TEX by TTH, version 2.25.
On 19 Aug 2001, 16:05.
Copyright © 1998-2003 Organization for the Advancement of Space Industrialization and Settlement. All Rights Reserved.