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2013 Annual Science Report

NASA Ames Research Center Reporting  |  SEP 2012 – AUG 2013

EPO Activity: Trailside Signs Target Astrobiology in National Park

Project Progress

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

The first two signs are completed, having been the focal point of public events in the national park and attracting thousands of curious visitors. Two remaining signs are in draft stages, with completion dates scheduled for summer 2014. These interpretative signs are installed at locations within the volcanic national park that best illustrate the most compelling aspects of astrobiology research.

Lassen Volcanic National Park has hydrothermal features that are 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 1: A high school student studies a new astrobiology trailside sign, looking for answers to complete a ranger program handbook.