Surveying for Mars Analogue Research Sites in the Central Australian Deserts
In anticipation of a future crewed mission to Mars, the international non-profit organisation known as the Mars Society is currently establishing four mockup bases at which planetary surface operations simulations, equipment testing and personnel training exercises will be conducted over the next decade. These should provide valuable design data for, and raise public awareness about, plans to explore the red planet. One of these bases, which are organised around a habitat of the kind that is likely to serve as shelter for surface-dwelling astronauts, is to be sited in central Australia under the name MARS-OZ. To find a suitable location, the Mars Society Australia has conducted a ground-truth survey of 15 potential sites as practical scientific analogues of the Martian surface, recording these in a specialised database. Each site was assessed on a set of geomorphic, science/engineering, logistic and visual analogue criteria. Six circular exploration zones 200 km in diameter were identified as clusters of the most significant, observed, comparative planetological features. These zones were then ranked to recommend a series of ‘landing sites’, at which future field seasons of exploratory science may be conducted.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2004