The True Story of the Mars Simulation on Devon Island

Supported by six steel legs rammed into rocky ground, the Mars Society’s white fiberglass dome sits like some extraterrestrial fishbowl on the rim of Haughton Crater. It shimmers in the never-setting sun of the Arctic summer. Called the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, the futuristic dome-topped cylinder can be seen from more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away. From the bottom of the broad dish of the meteorite-excavated crater, it appears as a bright white dot on the edge of gray-brown hills. From closer, it is an imposing sight. The habitation module, which is supposed simulate a base for astronauts on Mars, juts up sharply from the gently sloping terrain. It is easy to imagine that this space bubble is the first outpost of a growing colony on Mars, that soon the solitary structure will give way to a trailer-park-style settlement of prefabricated Mars modules.