NASA tests IT on virtual Mars

NASA tests IT on virtual Mars

During a dress rehearsal for future Mars missions, NASA and Army personnel and members of the Mars Society are testing a wireless technology designed for use on the red planet.

The rotating Haughton-Mars Project crew members are living in a controlled habitat on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic this summer.

Crew members work outside wearing NASA's prototype Mars suits to simulate working on the nearly airless planet. They are connected via satellite, and three webcams show their activities at www.Mars.TV.

The outdoor webcam and transmitter draw power from a photovoltaic array on an all-terrain vehicle. Fresh images upload every two minutes to a Web server. The webcams use the PlanetNet wireless technology developed by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency because Mars lacks an ionosphere for ordinary radio communications. Visit polylab.sfu.ca/spacesystems/planetnet for more information.

Lt. Col. John Blitch, an Army robotics expert, recently joined the crew with three tanklike robots nicknamed Stumpy, Jan and Titan, possible ancestors of future Mars rovers.

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