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Carnegie Mellon, NASA to develop robot illustrating how to seek life on distant planets

oring Mars."

In addition to Wettergreen, the Carnegie Mellon team heading to the Atacama includes William L. "Red" Whittaker, the Robotics Institute's Fredkin research professor and the project's principal investigator; Alan S. Waggoner, professor of biological sciences and director of Molecular Biosensor and Imaging Center; James P. Teza, research engineer; Michael D. Wagner, research programmer, and Robotics Institute doctoral students Christopher Urmson, Paul Tompkins, Denis Strelow and Vandi Verma.

Nathalie Cabrol, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, will lead the science team for the investigation of the Atacama. Members of the science team are geologists and biologists who study both Earth and Mars at institutions including NASA Ames and the Johnson Space Center, SETI Institute, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Arizona, the University of Tennessee, Carnegie Mellon and Universidad Catolica del Norte (Chile).

"Their role in the first-year campaign will be to become acquainted with the data sent by the rover and assess the validity of astrobiological exploration strategies that will be used in the 2004 and 2005 field campaigns and on future missions to search for habitats and life on Mars," said Cabrol.

Also under development is the capability for education and science communities to experience the mission through the EventScope interface (www.eventscope.org). EventScope converts data from rovers and orbiters into three-dimensional "virtual worlds" that realistically represent remote sites, enabling students to experience the mission from their classroom computers.

EventScope's team is directed by Peter Coppin, a research scientist at Carnegie Mellon's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, and includes experts in software engineering, interactive art and educational technology working to develop next generation tools for public remote experience. The goal is to have hundreds of
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1-Apr-2003


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