A month on “Mars”: getting ready to visit the red planet… on Earth

On Monday (August 1), a group of eight researchers and their associates headed north into the High Arctic to spend a month at the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) base on Devon Island, about 15 degrees south of the North Pole. The group includes base founder and expedition leader Dr. Pascal Lee, a group of researchers from MIT’s Haystack Observatory, other researchers and support staff, and myself, the sole representative of the media.

This will be the HMP team’s return to base since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions, and its condition is uncertain – weather and polar bears (opens in a new tab) can wreak havoc on structures and support equipment. The on-site generators and ATVs have endured several freeze/thaw cycles, and increasingly hungry polar bears may have made their way into some of the lightly constructed habitats – they’ve tried before. Although satellite images show no significant damage, success is far from certain.

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