An astronaut and geologist will camp out in a prototype Space Exploration Vehicle this week to simulate an asteroid mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Astronaut Al Drew and geologist Jose M. Hurtado of the University of Texas in El Paso will spend three days and two nights living inside the Space Exploration Vehicle, or SEV’s, cabin.

As NASA continues plans to send humans to explore asteroids and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, we will need to answer a number of questions about how astronauts could live and work in space.

Media representatives interested in seeing part of the simulation at 2:30 p.m. CST Thursday, Jan. 19, must contact Brandi Dean at brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The public is invited to ask the crew questions via Twitter @Desert_RATS for a Twitterview the crew will participate in at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20. Questions should be marked #SEV. RATS stands for Research and Technology Studies.

Wheels are of no use in the microgravity environment of an asteroid. Instead, the SEV will be placed on an air-bearing floor to allow it to virtually float, much the way a hockey puck floats on an air hockey table. This will allow the crew to see how the SEV would handle in a microgravity environment and evaluate the view from the vehicle’s windows.

During the media opportunity, one crew member will be conducting a simulated spacewalk in the virtual reality laboratory as the other assists from inside the SEV. Journalists also will be able to see the rover moving on the air-bearing floor as the crew simulates driving it in microgravity.

The tests are part of NASA’s Research and Technology Studies (RATS) program that will evaluate and provide data for future generations of SEV cabins.

For information about the RATS tests, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/desertrats

For more information about the SEV, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/SEV.html

Follow the RATS via Twitter at:

http://www.twitter.com/Desert_RATS

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: NASA

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