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Thursday, June 29 • 8:30am - 9:15am
Keynote: Designing for Future Human Spaceflight

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NASA’s Journey to Mars will require a paradigm shift in our operational and engineering designs to support humans as they conduct science and exploration in the realm of deep space and beyond.  NASA analog research activities, offer scientific and operational approximations of Mars-like environments where innovations can be safely and efficiently developed, tested and applied in preparation for future missions.


Within the realm of these analog missions, NASA research programs are able to address instrument and sensor design as this pertains to the development of these systems for future space flight. Furthermore, these programs can leverage both available Commercial of the Shelf (COTS) technologies and the instrument heritage of past and current NASA robotic exploration mission that are characterizing the surfaces and environments of other terrestrial bodies in our solar system in pursuit of designing flight instruments that provide rapid, in situ evaluation of planetary landscapes. These types of analytical tool suites will be critical to sample hi-grading and triage during future extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) where efficient and precise data will enable scientific return during high-risk human excursions onto the martian surface.


In order to understand the technologic limitations and to evaluate the ergonomic design of these instruments, our team has tested several spectrometers in the field during simulated human Mars exploration missions as part of NASA’s BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains) project in Idaho and Hawai’i in 2016. For the various exploration mission objectives, we find discrete rankings of these instruments based on data quality, as well as how these data are transmitted and communicated among science teams based on Earth, which provide sampling recommendations back to the exploration team on Mars.


We are presenting the interplay between operational aspects and the instrumentation requirements of future human exploration missions in our solar system, giving insights into the design of the next generation of handheld instruments for our journey to Mars and beyond.

avatar for Dr. Alexander Selhke

Dr. Alexander Selhke

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, NASA Ames Research Center
Volcanoes have fascinated Alexander Sehlke since his childhood. He started studying Geosciences at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany in 2005. In 2011, Alexander began his doctoral studies at the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Missouri – Columbia, and received his PhD in 2015. He studied the rheological evolution of terrestrial and planetary basalts during cooling and crystallization, experimentally. His studies on lava flow emplacement and the mechanism of the development of diverse lava surface morphologies were complemented by field investigations on both active and inactive lava flows erupted on the Big Island of Hawaii, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Field work included sample collection and measurements of the geometry of channelized sections within lava flows and different type of surface morphologies (e.g., pahoehoe, transitional, `a`a). Alexander has taught undergraduate students in the field and the classroom as a teaching assistant in Mineralogy and as a course instructor during his time at the University of Missouri. Alexander is currently a NASA post-doctoral fellow at NASA Ames Research Center, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. He continues to study volcanic landforms, focusing on the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids... Read More →

Thursday June 29, 2017 8:30am - 9:15am
McEnery Convention Center

Attendees (55)