minigallery: Desert RATS photo gallery
Photos from the ESTEC 'science backroom' of Desert RATS 2011. The team of 11 from Italy, France, the Netherlands, ESA and NASA communicated with the crews out in Arizona, just like a backroom would on a real asteroid mission.
NASA's Desert RATS – Desert Research and Technology Studies – have tested rovers, habitats, spacesuits, instruments, robots, communication systems, research methods and other technical, scientific and operational aspects of future missions.
This year this realistic simulation of a future mission included a European dimension for the first time. In addition to the 'science backroom' at ESTEC, ESA had a robotic expert in Arizona and a mission control expert at NASA's Johnson Space Centre, who also acted as CapComm during the operations.