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Public Voting Website for 2010 Desert RATS Mission

Visit between now and August 8 to help NASA choose the site for a simulated lunar geology mission in Northern Arizona.

The Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) has created a website that allows the public to view GigaPan panoramas of the Desert RATS (D-RATS) test site in northern Arizona. From July 27th - August 8th, space enthusiasts can also vote where to send the Desert RATS team for part of their annual Desert Research and Technology Studies, which includes engineers, scientists, and astronauts. The team will visit that site to perform field geology and collect rock samples. To cast your vote, visit

The Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) took panoramic images of lava, rocks, and desert at Black Point Lava Flow in Arizona for the public to choose as the most interesting site to explore. Votes will be tracked for the next two weeks and Google analytics will be used to capture statistics. The location that receives the most votes will be announced August 16th. “It is essential to involve the public in NASA’s exploration program to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers,’ said IRG Director Terry Fong. “We want people of all ages to be able to actively participate, contribute, and collaborate in meaningful ways to NASA's activities.”

BACKGROUND: Desert RATS is an annual test where NASA takes equipment and crews into the field to simulate future planetary exploration missions. For more information about Desert RATS, visit

GigaPan is a collaboration between the Intelligent Robotics Group and Carnegie Mellon University. GigiPan cameras automatically capture interactively explorable gigapixel panoramas. In addition to their use in exploration technology, GigaPan also helps bring cultures and peoples from around the world together through their captivating explorable imagery. GigaPan is used by scientists, documentarians, educators, journalists, and others to connect, inform, and inspire people across the globe. For more information on Gigapan, visit

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Desert RATS is funded by SMD; NASA work for GigiPan is funded by the Exploration Technology Development Program.

Contact: Terry Fong

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