BRAILLE is an acronym for Biologic and Resource Analog Investigations in Low Light Environments.

The CaveR Rover is the rover being used by the BRAILLE team to collect data. With attached instruments such as infrared cameras and spectrometers, the rover is responsible for creating 3D maps of explored caves, collecting data on rock composition, and searching for evidence of life forms.

A foot scientist is a member of the BRAILLE team whose responsibility is to review any data the CaveR rover returns while completing its traversal of a cave. The foot scientist will stand outside the cave to better simulate a remote Mars lava tube exploration. Once the rover has completed its survey of the cave, the foot scientist will then pick points of interest in the cave where additional data collection is needed.

Lava Beds National Monument, or LABE, is a national park in California where BRAILLE field campaigns are conducted. The park was chosen by the BRAILLE team because of its many lava caves. Lava caves at LABE were created by the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano, whose eruption approximately 10,500 to 65,000 years ago produced lava flows which carved out caves in the ground surrounding the volcano.

LLE is an acronym for low light environment. The lava tubes are considered LLEs because microbes within them have minimal access to sunlight. Instruments on the CaveR rover are chosen because of their ability to collect data in conditions characteristic of LLEs.

Lava Tube Caves, or LTC, are the type of caves being explored by the BRAILLE CaveR rover. Lava tubes are also present on the moon and Mars, as proven by satellite imagery. The BRAILLE team is using lava tube caves at LABE as an analogous environment for that within lava tubes on Mars.

Microbial communities are ecosystems composed of groups of microorganisms. Microorganisms include fungus and bacteria.

Citation: “Microbial Communities.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group,

RealSense is an instrument on the CaveR rover used to map the depth and geometry of the cave walls during a simulation.

When the CaveR rover is collecting data in a cave, its pattern of motion is called a traverse. First, the CaveR rover will complete a scouting traverse, a process where the rover moves through the cave, creating a 3D cave map and periodically collecting data. Then, scientists outside the cave will look over the information the rover has collected and pick points of interest. The rover will then complete a science traverse, stopping at each point of interest and collecting additional data.

xGDS is an acronym for Exploration Ground Data Systems. This program is used to transfer data from the CaveR rover to the foot scientists during a simulation.