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Looking For Life On Mars -- In Australia's Outback

The chosen site in the Australian outback, the Flinders Range of South Australia, has several geological features which have parallels on Mars
Sydney (AFP) Jul 28, 2005
Australian scientists are planning to build a "space station" in the remote outback to simulate the conditions future human explorers could face on Mars. Mars Society Australia says the station will be the final step in a worldwide experiment which has seen similar projects set up in the Canadian Arctic, the Utah desert and Iceland.

"The idea is that if you have these places around the world, each place has its own unique Mars-like qualities or characteristics," spokeswoman Jennifer Laing told AFP Thursday.

The station, designed to simulate living quarters which could be landed on Mars, will be 36 metres (118 feet) long and include cabins, generators, airlocks and docking hatches plus a garage to house a "rover" to explore the surrounding area.

The chosen site in the outback, the Flinders Range of South Australia, has several geological features which have parallels on Mars, Laing said.

"The research will include looking at some of the hot springs and the possibility of life exisiting in these incredibly hot areas and radioactive areas.

"The thinking is that there may be some of these hot springs right underneath the Martian surface.

"There will also be psychological research into the effects on people living together in groups for some time when they are isolated from others," she said.

The Australian chapter of the international Mars Society, an independent organisation which has several former US astronauts and NASA scientists on its steering committee, is trying to raise more than a million dollars for the project.

It is expected to be operational "within a couple of years," Laing said.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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