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Mars Society Announces High-Level Science Team for Mars Arctic 365 Simulation

posted Jun 13, 2013, 7:13 PM by M Stoltz

Several weeks ago, the Mars Society announced that it was initiating a ground-breaking project known as Mars Arctic 365, a special one-year Mars surface simulation mission to take place at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island in northern Canada.

The Mars Arctic 365 program, scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014, will provide scientists with the most extensive testing to date on how a multi-person crew can live and work together under isolated, stressful and harsh conditions as part of a human mission to the Red Planet. 

Given the importance of this scientific endeavor to the planning for a humans-to-Mars expedition, the Mars Society had recruited a high-level team of experts to design and manage the science program that will be carried out during the year-long simulation. Areas of research will include geology, microbiology, human physiology and psychology, nutrition-food studies and field technology studies, to name a few.  

The following eight people will make up the Mars Arctic 365 science team:

Dr. Alexander Kumar (Principal Investigator) -- Dr. Kumar is a British medical doctor and experienced scientific explorer, who spent one year at Concordia Station in Antarctica and also organized the White Mars field study for Sir Ranulph Fiennes' Coldest Journeyexpedition across the southern continent.

Dr. Chris McKay -- Dr. McKay is a planetary scientist at NASA, who specializes in astrobiology, planetary atmospheres, terraforming and planning for the human exploration of Mars and has extensive experience in polar field work.  He was also one of the founders of The Mars Underground.

Dr. Carol Stoker -- Dr. Stoker is a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, who works on developing instruments and robotic systems for space exploration and has lead field testing in numerous analog environments, including Antarctica. She was also one of the founders of The Mars Underground.

Dr. James Rice -- Dr. Rice is an astrogeologist specializing in the surface geology and history of water on Mars and also works as a co-investigator and geology team leader on the MER (Spirit & Opportunity) project.  In addition, Dr. Rice has extensive field experience in Antarctica, the High Arctic, Hawaii and elsewhere.

Dr. Penelope Boston -- Dr. Boston is a speleologist and astrobiologist specializing in the study of caves, related subsurface structures and gem-microbiology. She serves as academic director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute and was one of the founders of The Mars Underground.

Dr. Robert Zubrin -- Dr. Zubrin is an aerospace engineer, expert on Mars exploration, author and president and founder of the Mars Society, the world's largest space advocacy group dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet. He is also president of Pioneer Astronautics.

Shannon Rupert -- Ms. Rupert is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Mexico specializing in biological sciences and ecology. She also serves as Mission Director of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a Mars Society sponsored simulation analog in the Utah desert.

Lauren Fletcher -- Mr. Fletcher is a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford University specializing in environmental microbiology, planetary sciences and engineering. He has also carried out extensive biological field studies in the harsh Mars-like deserts of Peru and Chile.

A full update on the Mars Arctic 365 project, including a report on a pre-mission visit to the FMARS facility in July, will be presented at the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention, August 15-18, 2013 at the University of Colorado in Boulder.