NASA analog missions research addresses the need for integrated interdisciplinary field experiments as an integral part of preparation for future human and robotic missions. Future planetary research associated with Solar System exploration requires the development of relevant, miniaturized instrumentation capable of extensive operations on lunar, asteroid, and planetary surfaces throughout the Solar System. To this end, and in collaboration with other Directorates at NASA and other agencies, this Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research (PSTAR) program solicits proposals for investigations focused on exploring the relevant environments on Earth in order to develop a sound technical and scientific basis to conduct planetary research on other Solar System bodies.

The PSTAR program is a science-driven exploration program that is expected to result in new science and operational/technological capabilities to enable the next generation of planetary exploration.

PSTAR is not an instrument development program. Science instrument technology proposals should be submitted to C.12 The Planetary Instrument Concepts for the Advancement of Solar System Observations (PICASSO) or C.13 The Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration (MatISSE) Program. Hardware development to ruggedize instruments or otherwise prepare for field trials is acceptable, but is expected to be a minor part of the overall proposed effort.

In summary, PSTAR is expected to lower the risks of planetary exploration through instrument/technology development aimed at or coupled with systems-level field tests in
relevant environments that will obtain scientific data and/or develop operational capability.

The high-visibility field campaigns to the Earth’s extreme environments that are expected to be supported through this program element should also provide significant opportunities for student involvement in exploration, thereby inspiring a technologically competent next generation of scientists, engineers, explorers, and citizens. Therefore, proposals to PSTAR that provide for graduate or undergraduate science training are encouraged. In addition, because field activities, particularly those with a high degree of technology fidelity, tend to attract the attention of the public and the media, proposers must include a plan for engaging with the public and media during their field deployment.