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Canada and Mars Evening In Montreal Highlights Local Space Activities

2002 file image of Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island.
Montreal QC (SPX) Oct 29, 2004
Mars Society Canada (MSC), in conjunction with CASI - Concordia University, held a successful night of Mars related presentations in Montreal on October 28, 2004.

This event is the first of a number of public outreach events across Canada to follow up on the very successful Expedition Two program in Australia, and was designed to publicise Canadian involvement in Mars analogue research, and the Canadian space exploration industry.

MSC and CASI were fortunate to hear from two dedicated space professionals - Dr. Erick Dupuis, the Canadian Space Agency's Mars Exploration Program Lead Engineer, as well as Mr. Fathi Karouia, a Ph.D candidate from the University of Houston and Expedition Two crewmember.

Other activities included a showing of a video produced by Joan Roch, a Canadian who spent the 2004 fieldseason as a crewmember at the Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island, and a demonstration of the MarsSkin mechanical-counter-pressure analog spacesuit, a project of Mars Society Australia, which was tested in the Outback recently by the Expedition Two crew.

In 2001, the Canadian Space Agency announced its clear intention to participate in a significant manner to the international Mars exploration initiative.

Dr. Dupuis' presentation provided an overview of the scientific interests, industrial capabilities and current plans of the Canadian Space Agency with respect to planetary exploration, and Mars in particular.

This gave those attending the evening a fascinating insight into the establishment of a long-term Canadian Mars exploration program, and the types of challenges this goal presents to those involved.

Fathi Karouia is a French-born Ph.D candidate in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Houston, as well as a Research Associate at NASA-JSC.

His past and present work includes the development and the testing of new systems to detect and monitor micro-organisms in space vehicles or habitats, understanding the influence of the space environment on gene expression and shielding and radiobiological assessment for space exploration.

Fathi's presentation focused on his involvement with Expedition Two, including the different scientific achievements, outreach programs and media coverage it attracted.

The expedition, a joint project between the Mars Society of Canada and Mars Society Australia, was the second in a series of fifteen expeditions to Mars-like or ‘analogue’ locations here on Earth.

The goal of the expeditions, overseen by the Mars Expedition Research Council (MERC), is to develop strategies and technologies that will support a successful future human Mars mission.

Expedition Two culminated in the selection of the precise site in the Arkaroola area for the construction of the Australian Mars Research Station or MARS-OZ, one of the four Mars Analogue Research Stations planned worldwide.

The MarsSkin spacesuit, worn by Expedition Two crewmembers and made available for viewing during the evening, is based on an alternative space suit technology that has many superior qualities to the gas-pressurisation technique currently used on space flights, and attempts to simulate the way the suit would perform on Mars.

A Mechanical Counter Pressure Suit (MCP) differs from the traditional spacesuit by exerting pressure on the body using form-fitting elastic garments.

MCP garments were found to offer dramatic improvements to gas pressurised suits in reach, dexterity and tactility due to the replacement of stiff joints and bearings with light, flexible elastics.

Further advantages included safety (because a tear or hole would remain a local defect rather than cause a catastrophic puncture), lower suit costs and vastly reduced weight and volume.

The outer layer basic garment of the MarsSkin worn during Expedition Two used Skins, body-moulded garments made from the highest quality Italian microfibre and Lycra, which are designed to give a mild compression effect on the muscles of the lower body and engineered in such a way as to provide support and alignment to those muscles.

The event showed the level of hard work, passion and ingenuity shown in research programs aimed at supporting future missions to Mars, and was aimed at informing and inspiring the public with respect to current Canadian space activities.

The purpose of the Mars Society, a world-wide non-profit organisation, is to further the goal of the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet, through lobbying, outreach and conducting Mars exploration on a private basis. Mars Society Canada, with its international counterparts, have set up a number of projects in line with this goal, including the expeditionary program.

Related Links
Mars Society Canada
CASI
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Travel To Mars Could Be Harmful
Moscow (UPI) Jun 07, 2004
A Russian scientist says manned Martian flights could render a male astronaut sterile, shrink his musculature and weaken his bones. Valeri Polyakov's comments came during an international symposium on gravitational physiology that began Monday at Moscow's Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosti reported.


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