In the 21st Century, the world is looking to Mars. It’s the brass ring for scientists and space tourism entrepreneurs. But to test the Red Planet’s conditions on the human body and psyche, the Mars Society has built a research station in the middle of the Utah desert.
The Mars Desert Research Station is a simulation to see what the effects of living in an isolated, compact station for an extended amount of time. This ambitious project will determine if more research facilities could be built in harsh areas all around the world. The Mars Society says that “Mars will be the decisive trial that will determine whether humanity can expand from its globe of origin to enjoy the open frontiers and unlimited prospects available to multi-planet spacefaring species.”
The Mars Desert Research Station will include a six-member crew consisting of geologists, astrobiologists, engineers, mechanics, and physicians. They will live and work together for weeks and months to determine if humans can build a proper homestead on the Red Planet. At the moment, astronomer and science fiction author Diane Turnshek is in the research station, and recently told io9.com about her experience. She wrote in an email:
I’m out at the Mars Desert Research Station north of Hanksville, Utah. It’s a simulated Mars base run by the Mars Society—six of us are living for two weeks in sim, as if we really are on Mars. We wear spacesuits outside, ride ATVs, have a 20-minute communication time lag, eat rehydrated/dehydrated food and practice extreme water conservation . . .
Interestingly, the research station in Utah is in the same area Disney and Andrew Stanton shot the movie John Carter. The Mars Society hopes to build more research stations in the deserts in the Canadian Arctic, the American southwest, the Australian outback, and Iceland. These locations were chosen to mirror the harsh environments of Mars.
Photos of the Mars Desert Research Station can be found on their blog.