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2012 Annual Science Report

NASA Ames Research Center Reporting  |  SEP 2011 – AUG 2012

EPO Activity: Trailside Signs Target Astrobiology in National Park

Project Progress

In partnership with Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lockheed Martin, the Ames Team is creating a series of four astrobiology-themed trailside signs to further engage national park visitors in exploration and scientific discovery.

The first sign, “Sulphur Works,” was completed in May 2012. The three remaining signs are in draft stages, with completion dates scheduled for summer 2013. These interpretative signs will be installed at locations in the volcanic national park that best illustrate the most compelling aspects of astrobiology research. (Figure 1)

Lassen National Park has hydrothermal features similar to systems that once existed on ancient Mars. The signs allow the public to interpret and understand microbiology and their importance to planetary environments. Trailside signs have been shown to be particularly effective tools for doing interpretation and outreach, and impacting the public’s attitude toward science. (Figure 2)

The first NASA astrobiology-themed trailside sign was installed this year in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.

Tourists, checking out the newest trailside sign in Lassen Volcanic National Park, are introduced to “extreme environments” and their importance to NASA astrobiology research.