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In brief, MSC is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and enabling the near-term human exploration of Mars
In detail, MSC is a space-advocacy group dedicated to promoting, within Canada, the exploration of Mars by implementing public-outreach programs, by lobbying governments and by carrying out its own technical projects. Though mainly focused on Mars, it promotes space exploration in general, often collaborating with other space-advocacy organizations. MSC’s membership extends across Canada, with about ten chapters in cities large and small.
One-way travel to Mars will take about six months, when Earth & Mars are closest in their orbits. Once astronauts arrive at Mars, they will likely spend more than one year on the surface, until Earth-Mars orbits once again line up. Since there will be limited supply of oxygen, water, food, technical equipments, and medical instruments, the scientists and astronauts will have to live and work efficiently and safely with given resources. Here, the international Mars Society (TMS) plays its role by conducting Mars Mission simulations, which give people the opportunity to practice operations in a Mars analogue environment. TMS currently has two operational Mars Analogue Research Stations (MARS), including the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah, and the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on the rim of Haughton Crater in the Canadian Arctic.
MSC runs a unique program called “Expedition Mars” (ExMars). The goal of ExMars is to run high-fidelity Mars Mission simulations, with a focus on rigorous field science, field operations, and field logisitics, as well as the training of highly qualified crew members for long duration expeditions, all to prepare for the eventual human exploration of Mars. The ExMars Program is divided into two complementary series, the ExMars Analogue Training Series (ExMATS) and the ExMars Analogue Research Series (ExMARS).
The ExMATS (ExAlpha, ExBeta, ExGamma, etc.) focuses on certifying new engineers and scientists who are unfamiliar with Mars analogue research and MSC’s program. These mission rotations are conducted once a year at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), in south-central Utah near Hanksville. The two-week training period, which is typically composed primarily of Canadian crewmembers, includes a research program that acts as a foundation for the operations. Training is interdisciplinary, and each crew member is expected to play a role in the teaching.
The ExMARS (ExOne, ExTwo, ExThree, etc.) rotations take place around the world at analogue sites of interest, with an international, interdisciplinary crew of scientists, engineers, research assistants and explorers, usually for a four-week period. Crew selection is heavily focused on crew dynamics, and human factors.
Among the MSC’s noteworthy activities in recent years are:
Because the public’s interest in Mars has been greatly heightened by the recent robotic Mars missions and by the Canadian Space Agency’s desire to send a “uniquely Canadian” mission to Mars, MSC is assured of growing and having an ever-greater impact on future Mars exploration.)