LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Scientists from Los Alamos National Lab hope recent drone research in the Arctic can help others learn more about other planets. The team spent 15 days at Haughton Crater on Canada’s Devon Island deploying autonomous drones to make maps and find sites that might be perfect for collecting research samples.
They then compared the drone-selected sites against those geologists identified on the ground. “The sites collected by the drone closely resembled what geologists were picking on the ground, so I think this gives us a lot of confidence that we could use drone-based systems to really do good geology on other planets,” said Nina Lanza, planetary scientist.
The team picked Haughton Crater because it closely resembles the Martian surface. The 14-mile crater was formed more than 30 million years ago when a rock fell from space. “This entire island is frozen because it’s in the Arctic, so this is just like Mars. Mars is a cold place covered in impact craters. So we can use Haughton as a Mars analog to study Mars on Earth,” said Lanza.
Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island in the world.