Mars Society: The Time Has Come To Go To Mars
Mars is within reach! A world with a surface area the size of the combined continents of the Earth, the Red Planet contains all the elements needed to support life. As such it is the Rosetta Stone for revealing whether the phenomenon of life is something unique to the Earth, or prevalent in the universe. The exploration of Mars may also tell us whether life on Earth is the model for life elsewhere or whether we are just a small part of a much vaster and more varied tapestry. Moreover, as the nearest planet with all the required resources for technological civilization, Mars will be the decisive trial that will determine whether humanity can expand from its globe of origin to enjoy the open frontiers and unlimited prospects available to multi-planet space-faring species. Offering profound enlightenment to our science, inspiration and purpose to our youth, and a potentially unbounded future for our posterity, the challenge of Mars is one that we must embrace.
Indeed, with so much at stake, Mars is a test for us. It asks us if we will continue to be a society of pioneers, people who dare great things to open untrodden paths for the future. It asks whether we will be people whose deeds are celebrated in newspapers or in museums, whether we will continue opening new possibilities for our descendants or become less than those who tackled the unknown to give us everything we have.
Dr. Robert Zubrin – 18th Annual Intl. Mars Society Convention
Mars Arctic 365 (MA365) Program Overview
Mars Arctic 365 – Joe Palaia – 16th Annual Intl. Mars Society Convention
Mars Society Desert Research Facility, Utah
The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), owned and operated by the Mars Society, is a full-scale analog facility in Utah that supports Earth-based research in pursuit of the technology, operations, and science required for human space exploration. We host an eight month field season for professional scientists and engineers as well as college students of all levels, in training for human operations specifically on the planet Mars. The relative isolation of the facility allows for rigorous field studies as well as human factors research. Most crews carry out their mission under the constraints of a simulated Mars mission.
Most missions are 2-3 weeks in duration, although we have supported longer missions as well. The advantage of MDRS over most facilities for simulated space missions is that the campus is surrounded by a landscape and terrain that is an actual geologic Mars analog, which offers opportunities for rigorous field studies as they would be conducted during an actual space mission.
The MDRS campus in Utah includes four structures. The habitat (Hab) is a two story 8 meter in diameter cylindrical building constructed in 2001. It can house seven crew members at one time. The structure has completed a complete refurbishment over the last few years. The lower deck houses the EVA prep room, an exterior airlock, a complete basic science laboratory, a shower room, toilet room and a rear airlock leading to tunnels, which access other structures. The upper deck houses the living quarters, which include a common work/living area, fully operational kitchen and seven staterooms with bunks and personal desks. Six of the staterooms are on the main floor, a seventh is housed in the loft.
There are three additional structures on campus. The Musk Observatory houses a 14″ Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on a CGE pro equatorial mount. Attached is a 4″ refractor, which is used as a guide scope. Either telescope can utilize a wide array of cameras for astronomical imaging. The telescope is housed in a 7.5 foot automated dome that can be controlled on site or from the habitat module. The GreenHab, a new state of the art greenhouse fully funded by donations, was completed prior to the beginning of 2015-16 field season.
It is a seven meter in diameter geodesic dome that will house both conventional and hydroponic growing systems, in addition to space devoted to crop research studies. The Observatory and GreenHab are linked with the Hab via above ground tunnels to allow participants to utilize these buildings while remaining in simulation. Finally, an engineering shed houses the habitat’s generators that is not accessed by the tunnels.
Crews occupying the station are fully supported. The Mars station is operational with all systems functional during their stay. Shelf-stable foods such as those used on space missions are supplied for each crew. Additional support equipment includes five All Terrain Vehicles for field transportation and a 4 wheel drive SUV. Two staff – the director and a local engineering support person – manage the station. In addition, there are a host of volunteer teams supporting all aspects of the work that is done at the station, including peer review of all research proposals and supporting crews via off-site Mission Support.
MDRS officially began operations in 2001 as a fully volunteer enterprise. This upcoming field season will be our 15th. To date, over 1,000 people have participated as crew members, and many are now involved in other analog studies at different locations around the world.