The Mars Society is pleased to announce that the Mars Arctic 365 (MA365) Phase 1 mission has been successfully concluded. Led by Mars Society Steering Committee member Joseph Palaia and including Adam Nehr, Justin Sumpter, Barry Stott, Garrett Edquist and Dr. Alexander Kumar and supported by experienced pilots Richard Sugden and Richard Spencer, journalist Jim Moore and the staff of Mars Society HQ, the crew has completed the key essential mission objectives and has returned safely to civilization.
Departing from Idaho on July 8th, the mission spearhead, composed of Palaia, Nehr and Sumpter, reached the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) located in the polar desert on Canada’s Devon Island on July 10th. Supported by and eventually joined by the others, the team set about refitting and improving the facility, which had been dormant since 2009.
Among the tasks executed were the revival of two on-site diesel generators and the delivery of a sophisticated new “Carnot” diesel generator purchased courtesy of Association Planète Mars, the French chapter of the Mars Society. As such, there are now a total of three working diesel generators available at FMARS, as well as a gasoline-powered backup. In addition, the crew reactivated the satellite Internet communication system and tested a new satellite phone system donated by Iridium. A large, powerful four-wheel drive ATV capable of hauling heavy payloads across rough terrain and provided at a sharp discount by Arctic Cat, was brought in, along with an ATV trailer. The station’s old ATV trailer was made operational again as well, assuring redundant ground transport capability. (For a complete list of mission sponsors, please click here.)
The structural condition of the FMARS facility was assessed and found to be in excellent shape. The station’s electrical, water and waste disposal systems were all successfully reactivated. A new induction cooking range was installed, and other interior fixtures were also refurbished. The on-site stored food supplies were assessed, with most found to be sound and the rest disposed of.
Outside the FMARS hab, a berm to enable secondary containment of large quantities of fuel was built and stockpiled with diesel fuel. Two new airstrips were opened up to help assure good logistic support of the station despite unfavorable crosswinds, snow or other nuisances that might impede operations were the mission restricted to just one airstrip. A weather station, useful for both climate research and support of mission operations, was installed and activated. Large amounts of additional equipment from U.S. and Canadian suppliers were also transported to Resolute Bay, where it will be stored over the winter and ready for rapid deployment to FMARS in July 2014.
Commenting on the success of MA365 Phase 1, crew commander Joseph Palaia said, “Our team completed the critical mission objectives we had set out to accomplish. We plan to return to FMARS at the beginning of next season to deliver more equipment and supplies and complete preparation of the station for the Mars Society’s historic one-year expedition.”
MA365 is a plan to simulate a one-year Mars human 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 isolation, 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. Nothing like this has ever been done before.
The preparatory Phase 1 of the MA365 mission has now been completed. Phase 2, which will include final refitting operations followed by the initiation of the one-year Mars simulation, will begin in July 2014. A call for crew volunteers for the MA365 Phase 2 expedition will be issued shortly by the Mars Society.
Financial contributors are also needed to enable and support the MA365 mission. All donations to the Mars Society are tax-deductible (federal tax ID number 31-1585646). Numerous sponsorship opportunities, including purchase of the mission name, are available. Please contact Mars Society Executive Director Susan Holden Martin for more details.
A gallery of photos taken by the MA365 Phase 1 crew has been posted on the mission’s new web site (www.ma365.marssociety.org). Also a complete report on July’s MA365 expedition and plans for the one-year simulation mission will be presented at the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention to be held at the University of Colorado Boulder, August 15-18, 2013. The preliminary schedule for the conference has been posted, and online registration is available.