Crew Selection Procedures
About the MARS Stations
International Mars Society Links
Requests concerning this Web site should be directed to .
Copyright © 2002 - 2004 The Mars Society Canada. All rights reserved.
About the Mars Analog Research Program
The Mars Society
In August of 1998, seven hundred inviduals gathered at the Founding Convention
of the Mars Society in Boulder, Colorado. Since then the Mars Society
has grown to over 3,000 members worldwide, with thousands more subscribed
to the organization’s main newsletter, and hundreds of thousands of visitors
to its websites every year. The Mars Society of Canada is incorporated
as its own organization that participates in the international efforts of
the Mars Society chapters around the globe, as well as having initiated its
own research projects.
The Mars Society was founded to further the goal of the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet. This will be done by:
Why? 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 as we find it 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 spacefaring
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.
- Broad public outreach to instill the vision of pioneering Mars.
- Support of ever more aggressive government funded Mars exploration programs around the world.
- Conducting Mars exploration on a private basis.
Indeed, with so much at stake, Mars is a test for us. It asks us if we intend
to continue to be a society of pioneers, people who dare great things to
open untrodden paths for the future. It puts us to the question of whether
we will be people whose deeds are celebrated in newspapers, or in museums;
whether we will continue to open new possibilities for our descendants, or
whether we will become less than those who took on the unknown to give everything
we have to us. Mars is the great challenge of our time.
In order to help develop key knowledge needed to prepare for human Mars exploration,
and to inspire the public by making sensuous the vision of human exploration
of Mars, the Mars Society has initiated the Mars Analog Research Station
(MARS) project. A global program of Mars exploration operations research,
the MARS project will include four Mars base-like habitats located in deserts
in the Canadian Arctic, the American southwest, the Australian outback, and
Iceland. In these Mars-like environments, we will launch a program of extensive
long-duration geology and biology field exploration operations conducted
in the same style and under many of the same constraints as they would on
the Red Planet. By doing so, we will start the process of learning how to
explore on Mars.
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 planning. 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
Each station will serve as a field base to teams of four to eight 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.
However, in addition to providing scientific insight into our neighboring
world, such analog environments offer unprecedented opportunities to carry
out Mars analog field research in a variety of key scientific and engineering
disciplines that will help prepare humans for the exploration of that planet.
Such research is vitally necessary. For example, it is one thing to walk
around a factory test area in a new spacesuit prototype and show that a wearer
can pick up a wrench - it is entirely another to subject that same suit to
two months of real field work. Similarly, psychological studies of human
factors issues, including isolation and habitat architecture are also only
useful if the crew being studied is attempting to do real work.
Furthermore, when considering the effectiveness of a human mission to Mars
as a whole, it is clear that there is an operations design problem of considerable
complexity to be solved. Such a mission will involve diverse players with
different capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. They will include the crew
of the Mars habitat, pedestrian astronauts outside, astronauts on unpressurized
but highly nimble light vehicles operating at moderate distances from the
habitat, astronauts operating a great distances from the habitat using large
long-endurance vehicles such as pressurized rovers, mission control on Earth,
the terrestrial scientific community at large, robots, and others. Taking
these different assets and making them work in symphony to achieve the maximum
possible exploration effect will require developing an art of combined operations
for Mars missions. The MARS project will begin the critical task of developing
The Mars Society has identified three prime goals to be met by the Mars Analog Research Station Project:
• 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
• The Stations will serve as useful field research facilities
at selected Mars analog sites on Earth, ones that will help further our understanding
of the geology, biology, and environmental conditions on the Earth and on
Mars. In order to achieve this, each Station must provide safe shelter and
be an effective field laboratory.
• The Stations will generate public support for sending
humans to Mars. They will inform and inspire audiences around the world.
As the Mars Society's flagship program, the MARS project that will serve
as the foundation of a series of bold steps that will pave the way to the
eventual human exploration of Mars.
Mars Analog Research Stations will be operated by Mars Society researchers
and will be made available to NASA and selected scientists, engineers and
other professionals from a variety of institutions worldwide to support science
investigations and exploration research at Mars analog sites.
As an operational testbed, the stations will serve as a central element in
support of parallel studies of the technologies, strategies, architectural
design, and human factors involved in human missions to Mars. The facilities
will also bring to the field compact laboratories in which in-depth data
analysis can begin before scientists leave the field site and return to their
The Stations will help develop the capabilities needed on Mars to allow productive
field research during the long months of a human sojourn. The facilities
will evolve through time to achieve increasing levels of realism and fidelity
with the ultimate goal of supporting the actual training of Mars-bound astronauts.
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.
The first step in this plan was accomplished in 2000 with the construction
on Devon Island of the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station . In the summer
of 2001, Flashline was operated for two months in Mars operations simulation
mode. Also, in 2001, several teams around the world began work on analog
pressurized rovers that could be used either independently or in combination
with Flashline or other MARS project field stations. Work on the first of
these other units, the Mars Desert Research Station in the American southwest,
also began in 2001, with a successful first MDRS field season having been
accomplished from February to May 2002. In 2003, two more stations
will be established; one in the basaltic and geothermally active deserts
of Iceland, and the other in the Australian outback, whose ancient deserts
contain fossils which date from the same period when Mars' surface ran with
Each of these additional stations offers unique new advantages to the MARS
program. Because of its ease of access, the American station is the ideal
place to serve as a test bed for equipment that will later be sent to more
remote and unforgiving locations. For the same reason, the American station
is the best place to begin long-duration isolation experiments. With its
geothermally active areas, Iceland best simulates areas on Mars where life
might be found today, and thus it is the optimum location to practice Mars
exobiology field work. In addition, with its European location, Iceland is
well situated to act as a place from which the MARS project can act to inspire
the European public with the challenge of the modern age's New World.
Euro-MARS will be erected in Iceland in the spring of 2003, after being on
display during the summer of 2002 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Finally, Australia's ancient fossils are among the oldest records of life
on Earth, and as such may mirror the kind of traces that life may have left
on Mars. The Mars Society of Australia is currently seeking sponsors to construct
MARS-Oz in the Lake Frome Plains east of Arkaroola. In learning how
to look for such remnants within the constraints faced by Mars explorers,
we will be teaching ourselves how to search for the record of the origin
of life on our neighboring world.
Expedition-Mars.org is owned by the Mars Society of Canada, Inc.