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Tactical Scientific Decision-Making During Crewed Astrobiology Mars Missions

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Original languageEnglish
JournalAstrobiology
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date6 Mar 2019
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Mar 2019

Abstract

The limitations placed upon human explorers on the surface of Mars will necessitate a methodology for scientific
exploration that is different from standard approaches to terrestrial fieldwork and prior crewed exploration of the
Moon. In particular, the data transmission limitations and communication latency between Earth and Mars create a
unique situation for surface crew in contact with a terrestrial science team. The BASALT research program
simulated a series of extravehicular activities (EVAs) in Mars analog terrains under various Mars-relevant
bandwidth and latency conditions to investigate how best to approach this problem. Here we discuss tactical
decision-making under these conditions, that is, how the crew on Mars interacts with a team of scientists and
support personnel on Earth to collect samples ofmaximumscientific interest.We describe the strategies, protocols,
and tools tested in BASALT EVAs and give recommendations on how best to conduct human exploration ofMars
with support from Earth-based scientists. We find that even with scientists supporting them, the crew performing
the exploration must be trained in the appropriate scientific disciplines in order to provide the terrestrial scientists
with enough information to make decisions, but that with appropriate planning and structure, and tools such as a
‘‘dynamic leaderboard,’’ terrestrial scientists can add scientific value to an EVA, even under Mars communication
latency.

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