Tampa FL (SPX) Jun 25, 2009
4Frontiers Corporation is pleased to announce that it is spearheading this summer's expedition to the Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic.
4Frontiers consultant Walter Vernon Kramer has been selected as commander of a crew of six, the 12th crew to inhabit the station. He will be assisted by 4Frontiers Vice President Joseph Palaia, who will serve as his executive officer.
The crew will conduct a sustained program of field exploration during the month of July, while operating under Mars mission constraints. The objective is to improve understanding of the technical and human factors which may be faced by the first human Mars explorers.
Extensive research investigations are planned for the expedition, including the TAGGS (Tandem Aerial and Ground Geological Survey) mission an ambitious program intended to provide improved understanding of how future human Mars explorers will search for resources via aerial, ground, and subsurface geophysical surveys.
Kramer will leverage his extensive background in mineral exploration and extraction to plan and conduct field EVAs in search of resources useful for industry. This effort will be greatly enabled by use of the Maveric UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), to be operated by Palaia. The system is being provided through an expedition sponsorship by Prioria Robotics of Gainesville, FL.
"The Maveric will provide us with an eye in the sky, allowing us to quickly and easily survey a large amount of terrain from which we will pinpoint specific areas to deploy field geologists," said Joseph Palaia. "I believe the TAGGS mission will prove just how critical this capability will be, making this standard equipment on any human Mars mission."
Additional 4Frontiers team members will also play a role in the FMARS expedition. 4Frontiers has engaged three summer interns through a grant provided by the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate administered by the Florida Space Grant Consortium.
One of the interns, Jason Rhian is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida. He will serve as media coordinator for the expedition, being responsible for scheduling press interviews, developing media releases and keeping the public up to date on the latest expedition news and developments.
Spencer Frank and Eric Travis, both students at the University of Central Florida, have also been engaged as summer interns. They will work closely with 4Frontiers partner, the Omega Envoy team that is pursing the Google Lunar X-Prize. They have been working diligently for the past several weeks to assemble and test Omega Envoy's lunar rover prototype, which Palaia will transport with him to Devon Island.
Frank and Travis will lead a group of students at the University of Central Florida to control the rover remotely. Besides demonstrating key aspects of the Omega Envoy design, the rover will aid the expedition's investigation of the use of unmanned vehicles systems to enable and enhance the capabilities of human explorers during lunar and Mars missions.
The public will be able to follow the mission via a website as well as through the social media outlets Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Regular updates from the field, including EVA reports, pictures and videos will allow others to participate in the mission as events unfold at the remote outpost.
"I am excited by the work before us," Palaia said. "Expeditions like this allow us to appreciate the challenges that await the first human pioneers on Mars, while fueling our passion and engaging the human spirit."
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