Mars Surface Report #3

The following is part three of a series of five emails I sent to a local middle school during my visit to the Mars Desert Research Station as the crew geologist.

MDRS: Kerry planning

Hello!

We have power back on now, and it looks like our power problems are a thing of the past. That can change quickly though, but my fingers are crossed.

This part of Earth is a lot like what Mars might be like. Before this place was picked to have a Mars station like ours, a lot of research and effort went into figuring out why this place might be a good “analogue” to Mars.

MDRS: Pathfinder landing site

You can probably tell from the pictures that it’s very dry here. What else do you notice? I’ve attached one photo from the Mars pathfinder rover, and a few from our Mars Desert Research Station

MDRS: Astro walking

MDRS: Astro walking 2

You might notice, there’s not much water or plant life. But if you look closely, you may see old riverbeds. Since this is a desert, water flows here once in a very very long while. When it does, most of it is soaked up in the soil. Yesterday I saw an old waterfall about 20ft high, but there was of course no water flowing. It’s weird to see!

But this is the same problem people have on Mars. There are huge canyons, ancient beaches, gullies and valleys, but almost no water to be seen. Some scientists think it’s buried deep beneath the soil. Hrm, that would make a good research idea for one of these Mars analogue missions, to see if a researcher could find water here (maybe in groundwater?)…

There are a few other Mars analogue stations throughout the world, including one in the Canadian arctic and one in Australia. People are also investigating if Iceland and Hawaii are good places for analogue sites, can you think of reasons why?

MDRS: Untangling

It is also very cold here. It hovers around 3-6°C and overnight our pipes can easily freeze. By insulating pipes and burying them, our pipes USUALLY don’t freeze, but you can never tell for sure what’s going to happen.

MDRS: Meal prep

Ah! I’ve also attached a picture of our delicious meals, but I’ll talk more about them in my Monday email. I’ve got to get my spacesuit on, and I don’t want to be late!

From Mars,
Kerry, Crew Geologist
Mars Desert Research Station – Crew 66

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