Iceland set to be home for testing of new Mars exploration drones

Holuhraun, the lava field in the Central Highlands of Iceland, is set to be the test site for RAVEN, a USD 3.1 million project funded by NASA, labeled as a next-generation Mars exploration concept.

According to SpaceRef, RAVEN is a new concept combining rovers and unmanned drones to explore previously inaccessible regions of Mars. Christopher Hamilton of the University of Arizona and an international team of scientists will test out these new technologies in an area of volcanic terrain, similar to those observed on Mars.

Project RAVEN was one out of four proposals picked out from a list of 48 competing for funding from NASA’s Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research program.

“What makes it especially interesting to us is that the lava was emplaced in a sandy area, which is very similar to what some Martian terrains look like,” explained Hamilton.

The location of the test site, Holuhraun, is a large lava field formed from a large fissure eruption in the ice cap Vatnajökull. This eruption occurred at the end of August 2014 and lasted for six winter months until the end of February 2015