MA365 : The Mars Society Plans for a Year Long Mars Simulation in the Canadian Arctic

Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station

Arguably, no-one has doe more to popularize the concept of colonizing Mars than Dr. Robert Zubrin. Through his groundbreaking book, The Case for Mars, and the efforts of the Mars Society, Zubrin has led the charge to re-think assumptions  about the cost and complexity of establishing a permanent human presence on the Red Planet.

Since its founding in 1998, the Mars Society has maintained a steady focus on developing and operating Mars analog habitats in Canada and Utah to work through a number of the long term logistical and human operations factors likely to be encountered by future explorers.  Though both are remote, the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station presents the more realistic scenario.

Located on Devon Island, Canada near the rim of the 14 mile wide Haughton impact crater, the station, which is built in the configuration of a likely Mars habitation module, has hosted a series of expeditions during the brief Arctic summers. During the expeditions, crew members live “in sim,” wearing “Mar Suits” when working outside, and creating many of the conditions which might face scientists and settlers on Mars, all while situated on a remote, cold and barren surface which bears no small resemblance Mars itself.

Now, the Mars Society is seeking to take the simulation to the next level, building up to a year long stay for a crew of 6 beginning in 2015.  If successful it would present perhaps the most realistic environment yet for a Mars simulation. As part of that effort, Zubrin and the Mars Society initiated a crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds for the next stage of the project.

According to its Indiegogo campaign:

“Mars Arctic 365 will simulate a one-year human Mars surface exploration mission at FMARS. The mission crew will conduct a program of field exploration in one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth, while operating under many of the same operational constraints as an actual Mars mission. In the course of doing this, crew members will learn a great deal about which methods, technologies and tactics will work best on the Red Planet. Furthermore, they will do this while dealing with the stresses that come not only from confinement, as the Mars500 crew experienced, but also cold, danger, hard work and the need to achieve real scientific results, and thus truly begin to explore the critical human factor issues facing Mars exploration.”

The Mars Society has set a goal of $100,000 to complete the 2014 phase of the plan, which would see the FMARS station prepared for its year long occupation, and three competing crews vie for the 2015 slot.

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