A new paradigm for advanced planetary fi eld geology developed through analog experiments on Earth

Kip Hodges, H. H. Schmitt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

24 Scopus citations


Field geological research, as traditionally practiced on Earth, is an extremely fl exible science. Although fi eld geologists plan their traverses ahead of time-nowadays with the advantage of remote-sensing data-initial plans are continually modifi ed in response to observations, such that traverses evolve over time. This research modality differs from that utilized in extreme environments on Earth (e.g., on the ocean fl oor), on the Martian surface by the mobile laboratories Spirit and Opportunity, and by the Apollo astronauts during their explorations of the Moon. Harsh and alien conditions, time constraints, and resource limitations have led to the development of operational modes that provide a constrained and usually lower science return than traditional fi eld geology. However, emerging plans for renewed human exploration of the Moon, Mars, and near-Earth asteroids serve as an opportunity to invent a new paradigm for advanced planetary fi eld geology that embraces coordinated human and robotic research activities. This approach will introduce an operational fl exibility that is more like that of traditional fi eld geology on Earth. In addition, human and robotic collaborations, combined with the integration of new "smart" tools, should provide an augmented reality that leads to even greater science return than traditional fi eld geology. In order to take full advantage of these opportunities when planetary fi eld geology again becomes practical, it is imperative for fi eld geologists on Earth to begin right now to learn how best to incorporate advanced technologies into their research. Geologic studies of analog sites on Earth that employ new technologyenabled strategies rather than traditional research methods provide ideal opportunities to test and refi ne emerging designs for advanced planetary fi eld geologic studies, as well as to gain new insights into terrestrial geologic processes. These operational experiments will be most informative if they embrace the entire geologic research process-including problem defi nition, fi eld observation, and laboratory analysis-and not simply fi eld work. The results of such comprehensive research can be used to inform the design of a maximally effective training regimen for future astronaut explorers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnalogs for Planetary Exploration
PublisherGeological Society of America
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780813724836
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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