I asked Angeles how she explains her job to people who are new to the idea of building a Planetary Lake Lander designed to search for evidence of life off the earth. She responded that she explains that life here on earth can be found in extreme environments, for example very cold or hot, acidic, or suffering under extremes of UV radiation, and by studying those extremeophiles here on earth, we can better understand how to look for it off the earth.
In pursuit of these extremeophiles, Angeles has visited the Artic, The Kamchatka Peninsula, Peru, Iceland, and now Laguna Negra.
Posted by Eric
Panorama of Laguna Negra captured by Gigapan Voyage. Gigapan Voyage is a science instrument on the Lake Lander developed by the NASA Ames Intelligent Robotics Group
Although the morning started out with weather calm enough for Eric to survey to the North end of Laguna Negra, by the time the biological team started sampling near the location of the Planetary Lake Lander the wind had come up out of the North West. A few hours later, when they wanted to land the zodiac on the rocky beach with their cargo of water samples from various depths of the lake, the wind was gusting strongly enough to make the landing an All Hands event.
Blatt and Wettergrean Luagh
The high winds continued through the lunch hour, with a couple of Dome and tent cave ins inspiring an increase in the number of tent pegs and guys strung out in the direction of the wind. While we all caring for our dome covered laboratories, engineering compounds and personal tents, nobody was watching the Bodega-dome, which became entirely airborne in an exceptionally strong gust and flew up the hill several hundred meters. A posse of Roboticists and Astro-biologists gave chase and wrestled it into submission on the hill side. We’ll wait till the wind dies down a bit to re-erect it.
Needless to say, the Lake Lander has plenty of power now. The maximum wind speed detected by the Lander on the lake was 25 kts, but we suspect that the base camp site experienced some gusts of much more than that.
Posted by PLL Team
The Base Camp has grown by 5 new members in the last 2 days, as representatives of the Spanish Centro de Astrobiologia, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Universidad Catholica del Norte, Antofogasta arrived. They will be working on the lake, and in the “Bio-Dome”, as we call the dome tent set up for their experiments.
The Lake Lander keeps pumping out power, as the strong winds have kept the wind generator working hard, and the sunny mornings provide a lot of power through the solar panels. The Lander has already successfully sent test messages to Flight Control in California, and as soon as tonight might have the high capacity communications system in place and functioning.
Posted by PLL Team
Because this project is also about how de-glaciations and climate change affect the lake, we need to know as much about it as possible, including the exact contours of its bottom, and how the temperature changes around the lake.
That’s why I have been doing a bathymetry survey over the past few days. That means driving the zodiac at a comfortably slow pace all around the lake, while recording the depth and temperature data.
Some people think that this is not the most interesting job in the world, but I love it, especially starting early in the morning, when the lake is calm, and travelling up to the northern reaches. The base camp is already far away from civilization, so to be far away from the base camp provides an even greater sense of being alone in nature.
Tomorrow my survey route should take me past the waterfalls that flow out of the glacier. I’ll try to take some good photos to post.
Posted by Eric
Suzan Lee Collecting Solar Rays
When you look at a picture of the base camp, with its 4 dome tents, the kitchen tent, the 8 sleeping tents, plus all the scientific equipment, computers, food, and personal gear, All perched on the only
flat spot on a glacial terminal moraine, you can’t help but wonder how it all got there from nearest road.
Having been through this type of expedition before, Cristian hired a
local mule team to transport the boxes, bags, and crates up the hill and through the bolder field to the base camp site. It took 2 and a half days for 6 mules to move all the gear to the site. That’s a big
PLL Photgrapher Lisa Blatt