Photo: PISCES interns Kyla Defore and Ashley Garnett presented their summer projects and research findings to members of the County and State offices, PISCES staff and University of Hawai’i affiliates.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) welcomed community guests during the 2016 summer intern presentation on Thursday, Sept. 29.

Two Geology interns from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Kyla Defore and Ashley Garnett, informed visitors from the County and State offices, as well as University of Hawai’i affiliates about their various projects with PISCES during an hour-long multimedia presentation.

Defore and Garnett’s pivotal project involved a mock lunar mission at a planetary analog test site on Hawai’i Island. The students remotely operated PISCES’ planetary rover from a mission control center in Hilo, navigating rocky, lunar-like terrain and gathering environmental data.

Defore and Garnett also researched and characterized landscapes on Hawai’i Island that are geologically similar to those found on Mars and the Moon. Their findings could support future ISRU (In-Situ Resource Utilization) space missions, yielding resources like water and rocket fuel on other celestial bodies. The two interns also supported the 2016 STARS (STem Aerospace Research Scholars) Workshop for high school women by leading engineering activities for a group of eight young women.

“Summer interns play a critical role in PISCES projects and this year was no exception,” said PISCES Program Manager, Rodrigo Romo. “The two intern teams we had working with us in Planetary Geology and Robotics clearly displayed the high quality of students that the Hawai’i Education System produces. It has been an honor and a pleasure to have these interns work with us this year, and I look forward to the next group of interns to come and work with us.”

During the past three years PISCES has trained 31 interns from 12 schools nationwide across 10 different disciplines. The internship program is part of PISCES’ workforce development initiative with the State and County of Hawai’i.