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2008 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2007 – JUN 2008

FMARS Long Duration Mission: A Simulation of Manned Mars Exploration in an Analogue Environment, Devon Island, Canada

Project Summary

Seven crewmembers spent four months at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) simulating a Mars surface exploration mission on Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic. We carried out over twenty research projects in biology, geology, mission operations and human factors.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

The FMARS Long Duration Mission (FXI-LDM) was an unprecedented Mars exploration simulation in the Mars analogue environment of Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic. Seven 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.

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For example, the biology field research looked into the properties of the microbial mass within the seasonally thawing top layer of the soil above the permafrost, and determined the change in the depth of biomass activity in response to the winter to spring seasonal transition. We also identified 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.

As of July 2008, we have completed much of the post-expedition lab work, and are preparing our results for publication. About twelve papers are expected to come out of this project.