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Spaceward Bound Expedition: Pavilion Lake 2008

Photos by Jim Thompson
PLRP-Spaceward Bound photographer
June 27, 2008

Click on photo to see larger version.

See caption belowThis year PLRP (Pavilion Lake Research Project) hosted 17 students, 2 teachers and a group of parent chaperones.  This group piloted a short project to better define how the Spaceward Bound program could be incorporated into the PLRP.

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The mission of Spaceward Bound is to train the next generation of space explorers by having students and teachers participate in the exploration of scientifically interesting but remote and extreme environments on Earth as analogs for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.


see caption belowDr. Chris McKay, Planetary Scientist from NASA Ames, let the instruction.  Students examined the microbialites in the lake, examined samples and looked at specimans under the stereo-microscope.  They discussed what we are still investigating - why are the microbilates in this lake and how did they grow here?
see caption belowThe students also experienced the multiple technologies scientists use to explore the lake.  Alex Forrest and Weston Pike demonstrated UBC-Gavia, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that has been used to map the lake.

see caption belowThis year the students snorkeled the very cold Pavilion Lake.  Due to the extreme cold of the lake - some 58 degrees - the activity was optional.  But every single student went in, some staying for 30 minutes and outlasting the PLRP staff!

See caption belowThey looked as divers below them pointed out deeper mircobialite structures.  And learned about the unique structures of the lake and the significance of those structures in understanding early earth and for finding life signs on other planets.

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Students were encouraged to build their own robotics and given an autographed copy of Harry Bohm's book 'Build Your Own Underwater Robot' and tested one of the models descripted in the book.


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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: April 2007
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe