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Mars Simulation Base Goes Operational In Utah Desert

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  • Hanksville - Feb 8, 2002
    The Mars Desert Research Station went operational February 7, 2002 with the first operational crew being led by Mars Society President Robert Zubrin from Feb 7 to Feb 14, after which the hab will be commanded by Mars Society Mission Support Director Tony Muscatello from Feb 14 to Feb 21.

    MDRS Project Director Frank Schubert will also serve in the first half of the rotation, to be replaced by geology Professor Andrew de Wet of Franklin and Marshall College, who will serve from Feb 13 through March 2.

    The other members of the first operational crew will all serve the period Feb 7 to 21 and include geologist Jennifer Heldmann of the University of Colorado, biologist and attorney Dr. Steve McDaniel of Technology Litigators Inc, biologist Troy Wegman of the Mayo Clinic, and aerospace engineer Heather Chluda of the Boeing-Rocketdyne space shuttle program.

    The Mars Desert Research Station is located in the desert northwest of Hanksville, Utah. Together with the Mars society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station located on Canada's Devon Island, it will now provide the means to conduct a year-round program in Mars exploration operations research.

    The first operational rotation was preceded by a preliminary shakedown crew led by Anna Paulson, which took place over the Christmas period 2001 and the second shakedown crew led by Frank Schubert that took place during the last week of January 2002.

    The second operational rotation will begin Feb 21 and run through March 7. The hab will then be shut down for a 4-day period while the greenhouse life support system is installed, after which a series of two-week rotations will begin March 10 and run through May 7.

    A full report on the operations of the Mars Desert Research Station will be presented at the Fifth International Mars Society Convention, which will be held August 8-11, 2002 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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  • Background:
    Mars Analog Research Stations are laboratories for learning how to live and work on another planet. Each is a prototype of a habitat that will land humans on Mars and serve as their main base for months of exploration in the harsh Martian environment.

    Such a habitat represents a key element in current human Mars mission planing. Each Station's centerpiece is a cylindrical habitat, "The Hab," an 8-meter diameter, two-deck structure mounted on landing struts. Peripheral external structures, some inflatable, may be appended to the Hab as well.

    Each station will serve as a field base to teams of four to six crew members: geologists, astrobiologists, engineers, mechanics, physicians and others, who live for weeks to months at a time in relative isolation in a Mars analog environment.

    Mars analogs can be defined as locations on Earth where some environmental conditions, geologic features, biological attributes or combinations thereof may approximate in some specific way those thought to be encountered on Mars, either at present or earlier in that planet's history. Studying such sites leads to new insights into the nature and evolution of Mars, the Earth, and life.

    The Stations will serve as an effective testbed for field operations studies in preparation for human missions to Mars specifically. They will help develop and allow tests of key habitat design features, field exploration strategies, tools, technologies, and crew selection protocols, that will enable and help optimize the productive exploration of Mars by humans. In order to achieve this, each Station must be a realistic and adaptable habitat.

    The Mars Analog Research Station (MARS) project is conceived as a multi-year, phased project to enable distribution of the required budget over a period of time. In addition, phasing the project provides us the flexibility to incorporate design changes and new technologies in response to knowledge gained each field season.

    Related Links
    Mars Desert Research Station - Multimedia links
    Mars Society
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    Simulating The Martian Surface At The Bottom Of The World
    Fayetteville - Jan 29, 2002
    An experiment designed by the Arkansas-Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, now in place on the polar plateau of Antarctica, may help interpret the recent history of Mars.

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