2007 Annual Science Report
University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting | JUL 2006 – JUN 2007
FMARS Long Duration Mission: A Simulation of Manned Mars Exploration in an Analogue Environment, Devon Island, Canada
The FMARS Long Duration Mission (FXI-LDM) is an unprecedented Mars exploration simulation in the Mars analogue environment of the Canadian High Arctic. Six crewmembers spent four months under strict simulation conditions (limited water use, constrained diet, high-latency communications, no outside activity without simulated life-support equipment, etc.) conducting field research in and around Haughton Crater, a 39 million year old impact structure.
The FMARS Long Duration Mission (FXI-LDM) is an unprecedented Mars exploration simulation in the Mars analogue environment of the Canadian High Arctic. Six crewmembers spent four months under strict simulation conditions (limited water use, constrained diet, high-latency communications, no outside activity without simulated life-support equipment, etc.) conducting field research in and around Haughton Crater, a 39 million year old impact structure. There were three categories of research carried out: human factors research, examining the effects of the simulation conditions on crew psychology and performance, and the effectiveness of counter-measures; mission operations research, analyzing resource usage under realistic simulation conditions; and the field research itself, which focused on the winter to summer seasonal transition and its effects on biological activity in the active layer above the permafrost.
For example, the biology field research is looking into the properties of the microbial mass within the seasonally thawing top layer of the soil above the permafrost, and determining the change in the depth of biomass activity in response to the winter to spring seasonal transition. We are also identifying the microbial communities within the active layer and at the ice table, with the expectation that there are significant differences in quantity and types of microbes in these two communities.
Probably the most significant human factors study is the “Mars Time” project. The Martian day is 24.6 hours long, and during the surface exploration phase, a Mars crew would have to operate on Martian time (unless the landing site is in a polar region). This slightly longer day has psychological, physiological, and operational repercussions. During FXI-LDM, crewmembers operated on Mars time for 37 days, tracked changes in sleep quality and disruption using CASPER (Cardiac Adapted Sleep Parameter Electrocardiogram Recorder), and measured reaction speed and decision-making using cognitive tests. CASPER provides a simple and accurate means of detecting sleep disruption and stability by assessing cardiac autonomic activity from a single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG).
At the time of writing, we are entering the third quarter of the mission, and starting to wrap up most of the projects. The results will be published in the appropriate peer-reviewed journals for each research area.
Figure 1 Unavailable.
Figure 1. The FMARS habitat is based on a design for a Mars exploration habitat. It is small (about 1000 sq ft) and contains living quarters and lab space for seven people.
Figure 2 Unavailable.
Figure 2. The EVA (extravehicular activity) suits are not true life support systems, but simulate the bulk,weight and awkwardness of a planetary exploration suit. Crewmembers must wear these suits outside, which makes field work much more difficult.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Christopher McKay
PROJECT MEMBERS:Matthew Bamsey
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 2.1
Effects of extraterrestrial events upon the biosphere
Biochemical adaptation to extreme environments