Mars 160: Crew returns to ‘Earth’
The Mars Society‘s Mars 160 mission simulation has concluded and the six members of the international crew have started making their way home to “Earth”. The simulation in the Canadian high Arctic ended on August 14, 2017, and the crew was flown out from the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on August 16.
Arriving in Yellowknife, Canada, on August 18, the crew is starting to make their way to the United States where many of them will talk about their experience during the mission at the Mars Society Convention in Irvine, California, on September 9.
The final days of the mission saw crew members completing their remaining field science activities and securing FMARS for the long arctic winter ahead. On August 12, the crew had an ambitious schedule in which two extravehicular activities (EVAs) were performed on the same day – the first time dual EVAs had been conducted during the mission.
The morning EVA focused on collecting final samples from periglacial features near the habitat while the afternoon EVA focused on collecting biological samples near the middle of the Haughton Impact Crater. Both teams reported successful collecting samples that day to close out science activities for the Mars 160 mission.
After the crew secured FMARS, an activity that lasted through August 15, they were flown to a staging area in Resolute, Nunavut, where the crew showered and enjoyed warm meals. While cooking was a staple of the Mars 160 mission, crew members were happy to enjoy fresh fruit and meat for the first time in a month.
As the crew prepares to return home, it spent the remainder of last week in meetings to debrief the mission.
Mars 160 is a two-phase analog Mars mission simulation seeking to compare the scientific output under Mars mission constraints at the two Mars Society analog research facilities: the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah and FMARS on Devon Island in Canada. The FMARS portion of the simulation represented the second and final phase of the mission.
The crew will be making a presentation about the Mars 160 during the 20th Annual Mars Society Convention at the University of California, Irvine from September 7–10.
Paul is currently a graduate student in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Akransas in Fayetteville. He grew up in the Kansas City area and developed an interest in space at a young age at the start of the twin Mars Exploration Rover missions in 2003. He began his studies in aerospace engineering before switching over to geology at Wichita State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 2013. After working as an environmental geologist for a civil engineering firm, he began his graduate studies in 2016 and is actively working towards a PhD that will focus on the surficial processes of Mars. He also participated in a 2-week simluation at The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in 2014 and remains involved in analogue mission studies today. Paul has been interested in science outreach and communication over the years which in the past included maintaining a personal blog on space exploration from high school through his undergraduate career and in recent years he has given talks at schools and other organizations over the topics of geology and space. He is excited to bring his experience as a geologist and scientist to the Spaceflight Insider team writing primarily on space science topics.