Arizona’s high desert is a long way from the moon and Mars, but its temperature extremes, gusty winds and dust make NASA’s robots, rovers and latest space gear feel right at home.

The state’s famed Meteor Crater and Cinder Lake area represents a surrogate planet surface for NASA’s Desert Research and Technology Studies team of scientists and engineers who test futuristic equipment.

Media who would like to observe tests Sept. 12 or participate in open house activities Sept. 15, must contact the Johnson Space Center, Houston newsroom at 281-483-5111 or Glenn Research Center, Cleveland newsroom at 216-433-2901 by 6 p.m. EDT Sept. 11.

This is the ninth year for the team to take on the high desert and volcanic ash beds found near Flagstaff, Ariz. The team of about 100 scientists and engineers from six NASA centers will test advanced prototype equipment and operational concepts that may support planetary exploration.

During the field tests, space-suited test subjects will simulate a day in the life of a surface exploration crew on the moon or Mars, investigating the surrounding landscape, installing and testing science equipment, excavating and collecting samples.

Also, a robotic vehicle called the All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer will navigate the rough terrain to establish a mock-up way station that would provide respite for a weary crew.

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