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Planetary Lake Lander Demonstrates Adaptive Science In Chile

The Planetary Lake Lander project recently conducted its 2013 field test at Laguna Negra, a high-altitude lake in the Central Andes mountains of Chile. During the test, the Lake Lander demonstrated adaptive science technology, interpreting its own science measurements and using them to focus its limited resources on the most interesting phenomena. The Lake Lander responds to storms by increasing its sample rate and sending an alert email to the science team; it raises and lowers its water quality sonde (an instrument for testing physical conditions) to track the most interesting part of the water column; and it learns baseline environment conditions so it can detect novel readings, such as water quality changes when it passes near a stream flowing into the lake.

BACKGROUND: The Lake Lander is an analog to the proposed Titan Mare Explorer Probe, which would land in a lake on Saturn's moon Titan. The Planetary Lake Lander’s primary science objective is to understand the impact of rapid deglaciation on the physical, chemical, and biological processes in Laguna Negra, Chile. Its primary technology objective is to develop and test technologies that could improve Titan Mare Explorer operations. Onboard adaptive science is particularly compelling for Titan, due to long communications delays and extremely limited power that constrains data downlink volume.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: NASA Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) program, Science Mission Directorate (SMD)

TEAM: Susan Lee (SGT), Liam Pedersen (CMU), Michael Sims, and Trey Smith; Interns: Tara Larrue and Had Seddiqi

COLLABORATORS: Nathalie Cabrol (PI, ARC-SS/SETI), Edmond Grin (ARC-SS/SETI), Ralph Lorenz (JHU-APL), Eric MacLennan (UTK), Jeff Moersch (UTK), Victor Parro (Centro de Astrobiologia, Madrid, Spain), Eric Wartenweiler Smith (AquaSurvey Inc.), Pablo Sobron (SETI), C. Tambley (Campoalto Operaciones), Cody Thompson (U Guelph), and David Wettergreen (CMU)

Contact: Trey Smith

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