December 1, 2011: Astrobiology of Lakes

Analog field science and exploration research can approximate the Earth’s past as well as humanity’s future in space. Such is the case with the research of the Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP). The PLRP, a multi-disciplinary, science and exploration endeavor, focuses on understanding the morphogenesis of modern microbialites in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Over the years, the PLRP has employed a suite of lab and field based methods to accomplish its scientific and exploration goals. The field research demands the seamless integration of science and exploration field activities in an underwater environment inherently hostile to humans. The physical, mental and operational rigors associated with PLRP field science and exploration activities are comparable to extra-vehicular activities (EVA) where scientific exploration is a key driver. These working constraints are not simulated, but real and inextricable from the PLRP’s activities. The PLRPs analog science activities provide a real science setting in which to inform the development of scientific and mission operation architectures, train astronauts as field scientists, test technology, evaluate technical requirements to meet scientific needs, and design science backroom team protocols. Darlene will present a synopsis of the PLRP science and exploration activities with a focus on this past year’s field season at Kelly Lake, BC, Canada.

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