08 February 2009

2009 Mojave Desert Expedition, NASA/SETI Earth-Mars Cave Detection Project

26 January - 02 February 2009

Image: The Sunshine Mountains constrain the southern extent of the lava flow where we will be working in the Mojave Desert. Credit: Queeg.

Phase II of the Earth-Mars Cave Detection Project has two study sites -- the Atacama and Mojave Deserts. The 2008 Atacama Expedition Team garnered much success in northern Chile. I am confident we will be equally successful in the Mojave.

No photo. Jut Wynne (No. I; Expedition Lead). In addition to leading all field campaigns for this project, I am also the project manager.

Tim Titus (No. II in Command; Sensor Deployment). Tim is a co-investigator on this project, and is assisting in sensor deployment. He is also the lead modeler; using the data collected in the field, he will be developing cave thermal behavior models for both terrestrial caves, as well as models to simulate how a Martian cave will behave thermally. These models will ultimately be used to identify cave detection times, and will enable us to schedule aerial overflights with the thermal imaging camera accordingly.

Dan Ruby (No. III in Command; Cartography Chief). Dan is a veteran of the Atacama Desert Expedition. With other Atacama team members, he has been refined our volumetric mapping techniques. He will be leading this component of the expedition. Dan is also a newly elected member into The Explorers Club.

Denise Hill (Medical Specialist/ Safety Chief). Denise is responsible for making sure we all get home safe. She is an EMT and is our safety chief. What she says goes. If she feels a cave or given situation is unsafe, she makes the “no-go” call. The entire team will follow her lead.

Queeg (Base Camp; aka Poppa Bear). This man was an unforeseen blessing. He is a member of the Desert Dog Troglodytes out of California, and has coordinated many of their outings. He is our “Poppa Bear” -- our central command. He will have coordinates to all of our study sites, and each team will radio to him their exact location and when they will move the next location. He will keep a log of our movements on the lava flow, and has all the numbers to contact first responders in the event of an emergency.

Sabine Airieau (Mapping Assistant/ Instruments). Sabine is an accomplished rock climber and astrobiologist.

No photo. Doug Billings (Cartographer/ Sketcher). Doug is a long-time friend of mine, and one of the owners of Cathedral Cave Preserve. He has been a lead cartographer and sketcher for many international expeditions, and it is an honor to have him developing maps for this project.

Dave Decker (Cartographer/ Sketcher). Dave will be serving as a lead cartographer and sketcher.

Greg Flores (Mapping Assistant/ Instruments). Greg is an accomplished caver and has worked extensively on the North Rim with my friend and colleague Kyle Voyles.

James Rice (Mapping Assistant/ Instruments). James is an experienced caver and has completed numerous international expeditions. He will be operating instruments as part of the mapping effort.

Amanda Stockton (Microbiologist/ Mapping Assistant) Amanda is a rock climber and is a graduate student at UC-Berkeley. She will be assisting us in the mapping effort, and evaluating caves as part of an upcoming proposal we plan to submit to investigate microbial life in caves.

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