The Terrestrial Analog
fieldwork conducted on the Big Island, Hawai'i
In summer 2015, I served as a participant-observer in the testing of terrain manipulation robotics, with the goal of using investigating the complex of actors and forces at play in the use of terrestrial analogs, and that thus form part of the foundation of interplanetary colonization.
Human interaction with extra-terrestrial bodies is
increasing in frequency and diversity. Robotic scientific research missions on
Mars are revealing their potency as predecessors of mining and human
inhabitation missions, with private companies and government agencies increasing
their efforts towards interplanetary colonization.
These efforts bring novel interactions between humans,
technology, and the new environments of Space. In understanding these new
relationships, we face challenges of distance and technological mediation. As a
remedial measure in research and technology development, extra-terrestrial
scientists and engineers employ terrestrial analogs, Earth sites used as
stand-ins for foreign bodies.
Terrestrial analogs serve as simulated proving grounds for
technology, sites for climatic, biological, and geological research, and terrain
for astronaut training and human inhabitation research. One such site is the
volcanic grounds of
Hawai'i’s Big Island – the peaks of its two volcanoes, Mauna
Kea and Mauna Loa and the lava desert between them.
The research was supported by a grant from the Penny White Project Fund at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.