Mars Society Plans Year-long Simulated Mission in Canadian Arctic

FMARS (Credit: Mars Society)
FMARS (Credit: Mars Society)

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (Mars Society PR) — The Mars Society announced today that it is initiating an effort to conduct a one-year simulated human Mars exploration mission in the Canadian high Arctic at its Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS).

Situated at 75 degrees north, roughly 900 miles from the North Pole, FMARS is located adjacent to a 20 kilometer meteor impact crater in the midst of a polar desert that is known to represent one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth.

By conducting a Mars surface mission simulation at FMARS of the same duration as is needed for an actual expedition to the Red Planet, the Mars Society will take a major step forward towards learning how humans can most effectively explore the new interplanetary frontier.

The Mars Society plan, called Mars Arctic 365 (MA365), is divided into two phases. Scheduled to commence this July, the first phase will accomplish the refit of FMARS and enhance the facility’s equipment, enabling it to support an effective one-year mission, which will require wintering at the station through six months of deep sub-zero temperatures. Phase 2 will be the one-year simulated Mars mission itself.

Costs of the MA365 program are estimated at $130,000 for Phase 1 and $1,000,000 for Phase 2. As Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin explained, “The Mars Society has already received a $30,000 cash pledge, as well as the free loan of the services of two Arctic-capable aircraft and their expert pilots, worth (at least) $50,000 to support the mission. Thus we now have in hand $80,000 of the $130,000 necessary to fully accomplish MA365 Phase 1, and therefore we are starting the program. We still need, however, another $50,000 if we are to complete Phase 1 this summer, which has to happen in order to initiate Phase 2 in 2014. Therefore I am calling on everyone who wishes to see human explorers on Mars in our time to contribute whatever you can now to make this bold plan a reality.”

Zubrin continued: “The Mars500 mission recently completed in Moscow achieved much good scientific data and attracted worldwide attention. MA365 will go much further. We will also deal with isolation issues, but instead of sitting safe and sound in a nice warm room in the middle of a city, our crew at FMARS will be required to conduct a sustained program of geological, microbiological and climatological field exploration in a cold and dangerous remote environment while operating under many of the same constraints that a human crew would face on Mars.”

“It is only under these conditions,” Zubrin continued, “where the crew is trying hard to get real scientific work done, while dealing with bulky equipment, cold, danger, discomfort, as well as isolation, that the real stresses of a human Mars mission can be encountered, and the methods for dealing with them mastered. It is only under these conditions that all sorts of problems that Mars explorers will face can be driven into the open so they can be dealt with. Only by doing these missions can we make ourselves ready to go to Mars. Nothing like this has ever been done before. It needs to be done, and we intend to do it.”

Among the goals of the MA365 Phase 1 mission will be to refit and better insulate the hab, build an equipment storage shed and add two new generators, a thermal heating system, four all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), four snowmobiles (skidoos), a weather station, a ham radio station backup com system, a small electric range and an upgraded lab. Those contributing $5,000 or more will be given the right to name any one of the 16 aforementioned major units (the hab was named after in July 2000) as they choose, on a first come, first choice basis. Please indicate your top three preferences with your donation.

To carry the fundraising for the MA365 mission, the Mars Society is making use of the online fundraising system Crowdtilt. Those wishing to donate online are kindly asked to visit our Crowdtilt page. In addition, those interested in contributing by check should send their donation to The Mars Society, 11111 W. 8th Avenue, unit A, Lakewood, CO 80215.

All donations to the Mars Society, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, are tax deductible. Our organization’s federal tax ID number is 31-1585646. Please express your support for Mars exploration by giving generously.

A complete report on the MA365 Phase 1 mission will be given by members of its crew at the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention, August 15-18, 2013 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. For more information about this year’s Mars Society convention, including registration details, please visit our web site.