According to Torrieri, the two-week long Desert Research and Training Studies (D-RATS) training exercise, "...helped NASA to analyze and refine technologies and procedures in extreme environments on Earth."
According to the group's Web site, D-RATS is a NASA-led team of research partners working together to prepare for human-robotic exploration. The group conducts tests in rugged areas such as the Arizona desert in order to develop the necessary levels of technical skills and experience to help realize the goals of NASA's Constellation Program.
Constellation is a current human spaceflight mission within NASA, which encompasses plans to develop spacecraft and booster vehicles to replace the Space Shuttle and send astronauts to the Moon and possibly to Mars as well.
The accompanying pictures (courtesy of NASA) show the D-RATS training under way in the Arizona desert.