Mission Success! The F-XI LDM (FMARS 11 Long Duration Mission) simulation has ended. After 100 Operational Mission Days in simulation, we ended “sim” at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday August 21, 2007. In total, we were in simulation for 101 “Earth Days”, but because 37 of our days were spent on Martian Time (as sols), each day was 39 minutes longer, and hence we lost one entire Earth Day.
Appropriately, along with enjoying our first sunset in 4 months, I am pleased to report that this week we successfully collected the last of our science data, and met all of our engineering, education, and outreach goals. We’ve had a safe, happy summer, and crew dynamics are as great as ever - we’re all still friends! Today we even had a bit of time to breathe in the crisp Arctic air (and take a quick dip in Cornell Lake) and enjoy our surroundings, before beginning our mad dash to inventory, pack, clean, and write final reports.
Tomorrow we will begin our last full day on the island together by meeting with Astronaut Clay Anderson, who is currently in orbit aboard the International Space Station. Then, sadly, we will start to leave the island in groups of 2 or 3. The work won’t end quite yet, however! After leaving Devon Island, we will head to Los Angeles to present preliminary results at the Mars Society conference, and we will spend the next 6 months writing up final mission results.
It has been an incredible summer and although I’m disappointed to see it coming to an end so quickly, I’m satisfied that we have accomplished exactly what we set out to do: conduct a long duration simulated Mars mission under nearly all of the constraints a real Mars crew would face, and safely execute an ambitious science program, eventually yielding results which will contribute to our understanding of Mars. At the same time, we carried out a rigorous education and outreach program, reaching hundreds of students and young professionals, and captured the imaginations of many “fans” and followers. We anticipate that our mission results will ultimately contribute to the planning of a real mission to the Red Planet, and help to inspire the next generation of explorers. I’d like to congratulate my team for a job exceptionally well done, and say thank you for always maintaining a high level of passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to our cause, as well as a great sense of adventure and fun. This was a life-changing, unforgettable experience, and I hope to one day go to real-Mars with you guys