Liz Rampe, a planetary geologist and postdoctoral researcher, pilots the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) down to asteroids spinning at different rates as part of the 2012 Research and Technology Studies (RATS) at Johnson Space Center. One of the RATS team’s goals during this testing is to successfully navigate to an asteroid that may be moving slowly or spinning quickly and maintain a set distance from it with the MMSEV—a challenging piloting feat. Another part of mission testing involves astronauts collecting rock samples from an asteroid during a spacewalk. These tests help scientists and engineers design, build, and operate better equipment and establish operational requirements for future human-exploration missions.
Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford