Deep in the Arizona desert, astronauts are learning how to walk on the moon. Two Earth-based operations, JETT3 and D-RATS, were designed to replicate aspects of future moon landings and help NASA engineers design the technology, protocols and tools to enable astronauts to do science on the lunar surface.
The Joint EVA Test Team, or JETT3, mimicked the planned 2025 Artemis III mission to the moon’s south pole, where astronauts will face challenging lighting conditions. The team operated at night, using a huge lighting rig to emulate the sun. New spacesuit technologies and sampling tools were used during the mock moonwalks, testing the ability of astronauts to conduct geological work in tricky terrain.
The Desert Research and Technology Studies programme, or D-RATS, tested pressurised rover technology that will allow astronauts to explore a wider lunar area. Ultimately, this feeds into NASA’s goal of having a sustained human presence on the moon and, one day, on Mars.