Haughton-Mars Project (HMP-2001 REPORT: 010708)

Status Report From: Haughton-Mars Project (HMP)
Posted: Sunday, July 8, 2001

FMARS Crew supports EVA
By: Dr. Pascal Lee

I am now in the FMARS hab, with six other crew mates, living a rather unique experience. We've just begun, with obvious limitations but also a sense of promise, a field simulation of a human exploration mission on Mars. We are here to learn to the extent possible with the relatively modest means we have at this time, what it might take for human explorers to live and work on Mars.

We expect successes and failures, new insights and dead ends. We hope to learn from all of these. Our focus will be on field science and the conduct of Mars surface exploration operations. We plan to help develop some of the strategies and technologies that will enable humans to be effective explorers on Mars, and to study some of the related factors that may be key to this enterprise.

We had a first simulated EVA today. It was performed by Frank Schubert and Sam Burbank who worked on setting up some infrastructural elements just outside the habitat. A waste water sump hose and an external emergency escape ladder were deployed. The EVA lasted 1.5 hours. It went very well. Just like during a shuttle EVA, the sortie today mobilized the attention and time of just about everyone on board. Each of us had to monitor various aspects of the event.

Unlike during a shuttle EVA, however, it was not possible to benefit from live input from Mission Support on Earth located several light minutes away.On Mars, humans will be far from home. A high degree of self reliance will be necessary. This in itself is not a new finding, but how this self reliance will be enabled is where much research still needs to be done.

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project is now in its fifth field season on Devon Island. Managed by the SETI Institute and driven by science goals in astrobiology and comparative geology between the Earth and Mars, the HMP also supports an ambitious field program in Mars exploration research in which technologies, strategies and human factors relevant to the future exploration of Mars are being studied. Among the HMP's partners, private and government, the Mars Society is providing a new and unique element: a simulated Mars habitat intended to support studies in human exploration field operations research at a higher level of fidelity than has been possible before. The several crews slated to occupy the FMARS this summer will be supporting both a program in science and exploration research and in education and public outreach. The outcome will be, we hope, a greater understanding of Mars, of life, of its possibilities elsewhere, of how exactly we will one day soon explore Mars with humans, and of how the excitement of such a venture may be shared by, and will be of benefit to, all humankind.

Our modest efforts on Devon Island will by no means be sufficient to make a human mission to Mars happen. But if they may contribute to the journey, they are steps worth taking. We are tonight almost sleepless from the excitement of a great day. Today we simulated an martian EVA, more specifically a suited walk following procedures that might apply on Mars. In the weeks to come we will be examining how such procedures may impact or enhance field science. Step by step we will learn how to go to Mars.

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