Boyertown - Mar 01, 2004
How many of you would work fifteen hours a day in freezing rain, moving an unwieldy 800 pound piece of metal half a kilometer through mud and rough arctic terrain? And then go back repeatedly to do it all over again? If that appeals to you, then you just might be ready to go to Mars!
This is just one of the many experiences put forth in Robert Zubrins latest book, Mars on Earth: The Adventures of Space Pioneers in the High Arctic. In these pages he has chronicled the first important steps humanity is taking to make human exploration of Mars a very real possibility.
The book begins with an inside view of the politics of the NASA Mars plan, and their eventual proposed $450 billion dollar solution. The author played a pivotal role in redesigning that plan into a better, safer, more efficient $30 billion dollar workable model of exploration.
Zubrin has shown us by example that one person can make a difference, and if you can get together a group of people who share a common goal you can literally send humanity to another world. This is what his group, The Mars Society, is all about. Through Zubrin's leadership, this group has rallied together to show that humanities first steps on Mars are being taken here on Earth, and the time is now.
Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic is one of the most Mars like environments on our planet. Containing a 23 million year old impact crater, it holds a wealth of information for future Mars explorers. It is here that the newly formed Mars Society makes it's stand to test out a prototype Mars habitat (HAB) to learn what procedures these explorers will need, as well as what difficulties will be faced, on the surface of the Red Planet.
Zubrin guides the reader with masterful story telling based on first hand accounts, and actual logbook entries that will keep the reader turning the pages in anticipation.
Beginning with the failed paradrop of one of the HAB crates, to the abandonment of personnel, to polar bears and cold sponge baths; living in Mars simulation is a simple life complicated by all of the deadlines and excitement of human interactions. It's living in the moment- solving problems on the fly in the true pioneer spirit.
The story continues with the construction of a second HAB in the American Southwest and the continuing adventures of a new group of space pioneers as they test new equipment, procedures, and themselves. Mars Society volunteers have now logged well over 1000 hours in HAB simulations. This makes Robert Zubrin truly well versed to answer the question of what it would be like to live on Mars.
Questions such as: What kind of personality traits would make for good explorers? What potential problems will arise between crew members? What is a typical day like? What kind of science can you really do? What kind of food do Martian explorers prefer? What kind of movies? How do you handle boredom? How do you go to the bathroom on Mars? It's all here and much more. Mars on Earth is a must read for anyone interested in the possibilities of human exploration.
The first steps have been taken, but there are many more to follow, and Zubrin lays out the incredible strategic plan for the coming years of this most austere group. From new HABs to be built in Iceland and Australia to the ambitious Translife Mars Gravity Mission; this group is leading the way to placing people on the Red Planet.
Overall, Mars on Earth is a story of humanity at its worst and its finest, told with a wit and a style that will have the reader yearning for adventure. Personality conflicts, triumphs, frustration, adversity, courage and ingenuity, it all unfolds in this true-life drama as humankind pushes itself to the limits of endurance. It is a story of discovery about ourselves as much as about what it takes to explore another world.
Do you have the Martian Stuff? After reading Mars on Earth you just might find yourself joining the Mars Society and living in a HAB preparing for humanity's greatest journey.
Peter K. Detterline runs the Boyertown Planetarium and teaches astronomy at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
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The Greening Of Mars Will Be An Indoor Affair
Huntsville - Feb 27, 2004
When humans go to the moon or Mars, they'll probably take plants with them. NASA-supported researchers are learning how greenhouses work on other planets. Confused? Then you're just like plants in a greenhouse on Mars.
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