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Press Release

Contact:
Eric Sloss
412-268-5765

For immediate release:
August 29, 2005

Carnegie Mellon's EventScope Technology Helps Scientists See "Life in the Atacama" Through the Eyes of a Robotic Rover

PITTSBURGH—This September and October, an international team of Earth and space scientists will search for microbial life forms in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile, 4,000 miles away. The Life in the Atacama science team will do this, in part, through the use of technology developed by the EventScope Project at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University.

This technology enables the scientists to control a robotic exploration rover from a great distance, providing a window into Chile's Atacama Desert and invaluable experience with robotic life-seeking techniques that can be applied to both Earth and planetary exploration. This effort is part of the NASA-sponsored Life in the Atacama project at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, now entering its third and final year.

"We've developed interfaces that scientists will use to guide the rover and receive science data returned from the rover," said Peter Coppin, research fellow at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and director of the EventScope Project. "The goal is to enable scientists at our lab here in Pittsburgh to remotely experience the Atacama as if they were there physically."

The EventScope team consists of visual designers/electronic media artists, software engineers and educators. The team closely collaborates with roboticists at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon and biologists and engineers at the Mellon Institute in addition to scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center, the University of Tennessee, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Universidad Catolica del Norte, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, British Antarctic Survey, University of Arizona, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of Iowa, University of California at Los Angeles and the European Space Agency.

EventScope has also adapted their technology to bring the experience of robotic life-seeking to the public. Data from the rover, Zoë, will be transformed into visualizations and made available online at www.eventscope.org for free download. In addition, immersive displays and kiosks located in the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will retrieve data so visitors can explore these regions themselves.

EventScope is an interdisciplinary project at Carnegie Mellon that creates public remote experiences and explorations of 3D virtual environments using data from robots at remote locations. These remote experiences are primarily created using data from rovers on the surface of Mars and remote regions on the Earth, and from spacecraft orbiting Earth and Mars. EventScope provides software, which can be downloaded free at www.eventscope.org for creating and for viewing remote experiences. EventScope software and content is also used in schools and in customized remote experience exhibits in science centers and natural history museums. As seen in the "Life in the Atacama" project, the application of EventScope technology extends to astrobiology, space exploration and innumerable other scientific fields.

For more information about the EventScope Project or "Life in the Atacama," visit www.eventscope.org.

For more information about the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, visit www.cmu.edu/studio.

For additional information contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or ecs@andrew.cmu.edu.

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