Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal: Summer 2002


Further Information
  • NASA Haughton-Mars Project
  • SpaceRef
  • SpaceRef Mars on Earth coverage
  • Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse
  • MarsToday.com
  • Astrobiology.com
  • In the summer of 2002 I had a unique opportunity: I had the chance to visit another planet - or at least the closest thing to such an experience one can have without leaving this planet.

    I was a participant in the NASA Haughton-Mars Project - a international multidisciplinary research project led by Pascal Lee, managed in cooperation with NASA by the SETI Institute. My company is also a financial sponsor of this project. In addition, I was a journalist documenting the various research projects underway here.

    While I wore many different hats as I set foot on this amazing island, they all soon merged into one: I was a witness to a close approximation of what it would be like to explore another planet: specifically, Mars. As such, the only way to convey my experiences is to do so from a personal perspective.

    To set things in context:

    The location: Haughton Crater, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada - less than a thousand miles from the north pole on the largest uninhabited island on Earth.

    Project task: perform a scientific study of the Haughton impact crater and the surrounding terrain in order to learn about Mars and Earth by comparison - and constrast. Also, to utilize the unique Mars-like terrain of Devon Island as a Martian analog so as to learn how to live, work, and conduct science on Mars.

    My tasks: assemble a greenhouse that will allow space biology research to be done on Devon Island - and communicate to a wider audience what it is like to live and work on Devon Island.

    During my time on Devon Island I took copious notes and over 2,500 photos so as to capture my experiences. Only after I returned home, as I sat back to review and edit the photos and notes I had scribbled, did I truly understand all that had happened.

    So many things went on every day. While I was building a greenhouse at Base Camp, astrobiology, geology, human factors, information systems, and space medicine research was also going on - some of it in nearby tents -- in other cases, many kilometers away in the field. I have tried to capture as much as I can, given my attempts to see - and do it all.

    Herein I present my journals - journals from a place we call "Mars on Earth".

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