Objectives & Mission Overview
The crew will be posting daily reports from MDRS, and later from FMARS, on the Internet at http://www.fmars2007.org. Additional material will be posted to that site as mission preparations progress.
"We are about to embark on an extremely challenging, potentially dangerous simulated Mars mission to the Canadian Arctic," said Battler. "In order to achieve crew survival and mission success, it is critical that we anticipate all challenges, and begin to prepare for them. We must train together, bond as a team, and learn to trust each other, starting now."
The training consisted of several phases, and involved all of the supporting groups that will remotely assist the crew in their upcoming mission. The crew received wilderness first aid training, and spent several days working with both the Engineering Team and the Science Advisory Group (SAG), the latter of whom will be directing their scientific work in the Arctic. The most important piece of the training was an entire week spent with the crew in full simulation, with all of the constraints of the Arctic mission in place.
By working with the SAG prior to the actual mission at FMARS, the crew hopes to increase its scientific productivity while on-site in the Artic. The concept, tested on previous Mars Society expeditions, is that crews who train together prior to a mission are able to work together more effectively due to increased familiarity with each other.
The SAG, a team of eleven world-class scientists, has coordinated the orchestration of this complex mission, and supported the selection of the FMARS crew. Its members are:
Mission Science Agenda
Relevant field activities include geological surveys, searching for evidence of past life, searching for extant life, and environmental and meteorological observations. In addition, investigating the role and optimal combination of human exploration, telepresence, robotic exploration, and the use of remote sensing tools are all part of these simulations.
The four-month FMARS mission simulation opens up additional focused science opportunities, enabled by the long stay in Arctic conditions. The mission-long scientific focus of the 2007 FMARS crew will be on coupled physical and biological studies of the Arctic active layer over the transition from hard winter freeze to summer thaw.
The season start and end dates have been chosen so that observations will begin when ground temperatures are well below -20 °C. We will study the physics and biology of the transition from minus 20 °C to 0 °C and above.
Important biological and physical processes begin at -20 °C. The eutectic of NaCl is -21.1 °C and at this temperature salt solutions in the Arctic begin to flow [Heldmann et al., 2005]. In addition, laboratory measurements have shown that biological activity begins at temperatures near -20 °C in permafrost [Rivkina et al. 2001] and in sea ice [Junge et al. 2006]. Both biological and physical flow process increase rapidly as the temperature is warmed to 0 °C and above.
Examples of science activities include (but are not limited to):
Science Project Descriptions
Junge, K., H. Eicken, B. Swanson, and J. W. Deming (2006). Bacterial incorporation of leucine into protein down to -20°C with evidence for potential activity in subeutectic saline ice formations (submitted to Cryobiology).
Heldmann, J.L., C.P. McKay, W.H. Pollard, D.T.Andersen, and O.B. Toon (2005) Annual development cycle of an icing deposit and associated perennial spring activity on Axel Heiberg Island, Canadian High Arctic. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Res. 37, 127-135.
Rivkina, E.M., E.I. Friedmann, C.P. McKay, and D.A. Gilichinsky, Metabolic activity of permafrost bacteria below the freezing point, Appl. Environ. Microbio., 66, 3230-3233, 2000.
Zubrin, R., Mars on Earth, Tarcher Penguin, New York, 2003.