Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To the moon, Alice!

Where do you go to test vehicles for the next moon trip (2020)? Moses Lake, Washington. (That would be the state of Washington for you east coasties.)

It might not rain on the moon. Nor is there a lot of wind.
But moon dust kicked up by astronauts, rockets and rovers can damage gear, as the Apollo program showed. One of the main reasons NASA picked Moses Lake from a list of 20 potential field sites was the fact that local soils resemble those on the moon, Bluethmann said. The engineers also liked the combination of flat, open terrain and rolling dunes in the 3,000-acre off-road-vehicle park where they set up shop.

"It's got a lot of lunar qualities to it," Bluethmann said.

And you can get locally-experienced advice about what tires to use.

The vehicle was originally equipped with knobby tires, Bluethmann said. But the scientists swapped them out for smooth versions at the suggestion of a local farmer familiar with the sandy terrain.

Hat tip Girlhacker.

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