Historic 4-Month Arctic Mars Mission Reaches Midpoint; Crew to Switch to Mars Time Mars Society

The Mars Society’s four-month Mars exploration Arctic simulation mission, the first of its kind, reached its halfway point today (7/2/07), and will now begin a unique experiment by shifting its operational cycle to Mars time.
The long-duration simulated Mars mission on Devon Island in the high Canadian Arctic has been operating successfully for two months. The seven-person crew of the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) has conducted a comprehensive program of geological and microbiological field exploration in the island’s Mars-like polar desert, 900 miles from the North Pole, all while operating under many of the same constraints that human explorers would face on Mars. By doing so, they are learning from direct experience many lessons that will be of critical value when human explorers actually set foot on the red planet.
At this writing, the crew has completed two months of mission simulation on the island, doubling the one-month duration record set by previous crews. The plan is for the crew to continue for two more months, quadrupling the previous record for an active Mars mission simulation.
As Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin explained, “This is an utterly unique experiment that goes far beyond anything that anyone has ever done before. In contrast to the isolation studies done by the Russian Space Agency, for example, our crews are not sitting in a room in the middle of a major city playing chess for weeks on end. Rather, they are being tasked to undertake a tough program of actual field exploration, doing real science under risky conditions hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement in one of the most hostile environments on Earth. It is by taking on challenges like this that people are going to learn how to explore on Mars.”