Westminster Biologist Among Finalists For Mars Arctic 365 Mission

Image Credit: T. Gagnon

Image Credit: T. Gagnon

October 8, 2014 – Westminster biologist Jennifer Lamore is among twenty-one finalists that have been selected for possible participation in the Mars Society’s Mars Arctic 365 (MA365) mission. MA365 is a plan to simulate a one-year Mars human surface exploration mission in the Canadian high Arctic.

Lamore and the other finalists have been divided into three crews of seven persons each and will be sent to the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah for further training. Lamore will be part of crew 143, scheduled to train in Utah from November 15-30. During training at MDRS, candidates will be further evaluated and a final seven-person crew will be chosen to perform the MA365 mission.

MA365 will take place at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), a simulated landed spacecraft and research station built and operated by the Mars Society on Canada’s Devon Island. Situated at 75 degrees north, less than 1,000 miles from the North Pole, the FMARS facility is perched on the rim of a 14 mile diameter meteor impact crater in the midst of a polar desert known as one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth.

The MA365 mission crew operate under many of the same operational constrains as an actual Mars mission while they conduct a program of field exploration. As any Mars mission will require a variety of skills and personalities, the finalists for this program include a truly global group of scientists, engineers, writers, doctors, military officers and outdoor adventurers.

Crew members will learn a great deal about which methods, technologies and tactics will work best on the Red Planet and scientists will be able to learn more about critical human factors facing the first deep space explorers. MA365 crew members will experience the stress of isolation as well as cold temperatures and dangerous conditions while conducting a sustained program of geological, microbiological and climatological field exploration.

“It is only under these conditions,” said Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin, “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.”

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 towards learning how humans can most effectively explore the new interplanetary frontier.

The Mars Society is based in Lakewood, Colorado, but has chapters around the world.