First Half of Mars 160 Mission Involving Unique Twin Desert-Arctic Analog
Earlier this year, the Mars Society announced plans to carry out a new Mars surface simulation using both of the organization’s analog research facilities – the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah and the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in Canada. This unique dual mission entitled Mars 160 involves a seven-person crew doing similar science operations for the same period of time – 80 days – first at MDRS, with the sim scheduled to begin September 24th and then once again in the summer of 2017 at FMARS.
During the course of the two 12 week missions, the Mars 160 crew will conduct a sustained program of field exploration involving geology, micro-biology and paleontology while operating under many of the same constraints that human explorers on the Red Planet would face. The team will also carry out Mars-relevant engineering research, testing spacesuit technologies, EVA traverse strategies, astronaut cross-training in the field and habitat technologies. By doing so, they will help advance humanity’s knowledge of how to better explore the Martian surface.
Furthermore, by conducting the Mars 160 mission in the form of twin studies, dubbed Mars Desert 80 (MD80) and Mars Arctic 80 (MA80) with the crew operating in the desert and the Arctic, the program will provide important information as to how well Mars analog missions held in the desert can serve in place of far more expensive Mars surface simulations carried out in the Arctic regions, and to what extend conclusions drawn from desert-based research need to be adjusted to reflect that which would likely be obtained under more stressful Arctic field conditions. Mars 160 is expected to greatly improve the cost-effectiveness of Mars analog research.
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