Aerospace engineer and researcher Pablo de Leon is part of a unique mission to test a UND planetary exploration suit -- the NDX-1 -- at a remote military base in Antarctica. The team departed for the Antarctic base from an Argentine Air Force site earlier this week.
The Spaceward Bound Mission includes de Leon, of the UND Department of Space Studies; space biologist Jon Rask, a Bismarck, N.D., native and UND Space Studies master’s degree alum; and Dr. Margarita Marinova. Rask is Senior Scientist and Marinova is a planetary scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Ames Research near San Francisco, CA. The team also includes a field support and documentation specialist.
The team is expected to spend seven to 10 days at the Marambio Station, Argentina’s main Antarctic base, to conduct a variety of tests with the NDX-1 planetary exploration suit system. The NDX-1 also has been tested extensively in the Badlands and at the Dahlen Esker in North Dakota, at the Mars Desert Research Center in Utah, and at the Ames Research Center.
The NDX-1 was designed and constructed at UND through NASA funding provided by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium.
The team plans to blog this expedition; you can follow the team’s test routines at http://spacesuitlab.blogspot.com/