Mars Desert Research Station Field Season Concludes Mars Society

On May 8, the first field season of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) concluded. The season, which began Feb 7, included 6 two-week crew rotations, thereby more than tripling the total amount of Mars Society mission operations research field time undertaken to date. For 84 days, crews of selected volunteers conducted a systematic program of field exploration of the Utah desert, while operating under many Mars mission-like constraints. In the course of doing so, many improvements in exploration methodology and insights into exploration human factors were gained. The MDRS crews consistently demonstrated the ability to operate with a daily total water use of about 20 liters per person without significant negative impact on morale. This compares quite favorably with the NASA estimate of 32 liters per person. As (even with 90% recycling) water is by far the single largest mass that needs to be transported on a human Mars mission, this finding promises to significantly reduce the mass and cost requirements of human Mars exploration. The MDRS crews also debunked a number of myths pervasive in certain sectors of the space human-factors community.