November 23, 2011
Human Moon and Mars Exploration Simulated in Mojave Desert
An international team of researchers from the Mars Institute, in partnership with the SETI Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Carnegie Mellon University, and U.S. aerospace companies Hamilton Sundstrand and Honeybee Robotics, has successfully completed a series of field tests aimed at investigating how humans will conduct geotechnical surveys on the Moon or Mars in advance of establishing more substantial surface infrastructures.
August 5, 2011
Robotic Arm to Assist Future Astronauts in Sampling Asteroids, the Moon, and Mars from Pressurized Vehicles
Haughton-Mars Project Research Station, Devon Island, High Arctic, August 5, 2011 - An international team of space researchers from the Mars Institute and the space robotics company MDA Information Systems, Inc., has successfully completed a first series of field tests aimed at determining how future astronauts piloting a pressurized vehicle will be able to use a robotic arm to efficiently collect geologic samples on asteroids, the Moon, and Mars, without always needing to go out on spacewalks.
February 21, 2011
Mars Institute Technical Publication 2009-001
Now available is the first Mars Institute Technical Publication 2009-001 titled: First International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, 5-7 Nov 2007: Summary and Recommendations.
January 3, 2011
The Second International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos
The Second International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos will be held at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA, on 14-16 March 2011.
The Second International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, subtitled The Science, Robotic Reconnaissance, and Human Exploration of the Two Moons of Mars, will be the second international meeting focused on Phobos and Deimos, and on how their exploration relates to that of Mars and the Solar System. The workshop will be an open international forum gathering scientists, engineers, space exploration professionals and students interested in discussing the status and advancement of the exploration of Mars's satellites, the investigation of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and other small bodies in relation to the exploration of Phobos and Deimos, and the exploration of Mars itself through its moons.
The conference is being convened at a time of renewed interest in the exploration of Phobos and Deimos, with several international spacecraft missions and concept studies underway. Important new scientific data have also been obtained on Phobos by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and ESA's Mars Express spacecraft since the first conference at NASA Ames Research Center on 5-7 Nov 2007.
The human exploration of Phobos and Deimos has also entered the realm of programmatic possibilities recently. In the United States, the human exploration of Phobos was considered an attractive goal in the Augustine Commission's "Flexible Path" option. And on 15 April, 2010, President Barack Obama announced: "Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. So we'll start -- we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."
The conference will be an opportunity to:
The anticipated outcome of the conference will be a clearer definition of the place Phobos and Deimos should hold in current plans for deep space and planetary exploration, robotic and manned, and of how their future exploration might be tied to the exploration of NEOs and Mars.
December 3, 2010
KEFTY Exerciser Selected by the Mars Institute for Space Exploration Rover Simulations in the Arctic
The KEFTY Company announces today that its revolutionary home exerciser system has been selected by the Mars Institute for use in Summer 2011 onboard concept rovers for future human Moon and Mars exploration operated by the Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island, High Arctic.
KEFTY is a Made-in-USA handheld exerciser with a rubber-tensioned tubing frame made of high impact polymers. It was developed by Minnesota inventor and KEFTY CEO, Nick Musachio. "The unique patented device has resistance in two directions and does not need any external attachment points or gravity to work. At only 4 lbs, KEFTY is lightweight, compact, adjustable, silent, smooth, exercises the entire body, and is easily taken apart for travel, including travel to Mars!" says Musachio.
The Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) is a pioneering field research project in the extreme, Moon and Mars-like environment of Devon Island in the High Arctic. There, new concepts are being developed and tested by NASA and other space agencies for future space exploration. In particular, the HMP's Moon-1 and Mars-1 Humvee Rovers support studies at NASA on the design and use of future pressurized vehicles for astronauts on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Pressurized rovers, like sealed motor-homes, are vehicles in which astronauts would drive, live, work and sleep in "shirtsleeves", and go outside in spacesuits as needed.
"Astronauts on long-duration drives on the Moon and Mars will be cooped up for days to weeks on end within the tight confines of their pressurized rovers. They will need an effective way to exercise and stay in shape. We think KEFTY could be the answer" says planetary scientist Pascal Lee, Director of the Haughton-Mars Project. "KEFTY combines key attributes that NASA would look for in an exerciser for spaceflight: it is effective, safe, lightweight, compact, easy to use, versatile, and affordable".
"KEFTY will keep our astronauts in their "skinny jeans," even on Mars" says Musachio. "But, seriously, it is easy to see that KEFTY would be ideal for space exploration, submarines, and small apartments, and we are delighted that the Haughton-Mars Project will be deploying our units". In the summer of 2011, Musachio will assist the HMP by providing KEFTY exerciser equipment for testing, as well as advise the HMP's Moon-1 and Mars-1 crew members on optimal use of the KEFTY portable gym system.
More information about the KEFTY, visit the company's web site: www.kefty.com,
October 8, 2010
Audouin Dollfus Passes Away
The Mars Institute was sad to learn that French astronomer, aeronaut, and Mars Institute Board of Advisors Emeritus Member Dr Audouin Dollfus passed away on October 1, 2010 in Versailles, France, at the age of 85.
Born November 12, 1924, in Paris and son of aeronaut Charles Dollfus, Audouin Dollfus built his first refracting telescope at the age of 14. Graduating with a degree in mathematical sciences and physics, he began his career at the Observatory of Paris-Meudon as a student of astronomer Bernard Lyot. At a time when astronomy was focusing on the deep sky, Dollfus turned to the study of the solar system, and became a worldwide expert on the subject. He created the Laboratory of Solar System Physics at Meudon, studying all planets, with special interest in Mars, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter. He also contributed to the study of the Sun by creating a coronograph that was used by many spacecraft missions. Dollfus led astronomical campaigns both at the Observatory of Meudon and the Pic-du-Midi Observatory. In 1966 he discovered Janus, the tenth satellite of Saturn. Asteroid 2451 Dollfus was named after him.
In 1955, Dollfus' analysis of lunar dust using polarimetry allowed him to deduce the basaltic nature of the lunar soil. As a result, NASA invited him to collaborate on the study of the Apollo 11 landing site and to provide expertise for the design of the astronauts' boots. He contributed to the analysis of the lunar samples returned by the Apollo program and to the studies of the martian soil in preparation for the Viking mission, which landed in 1976 on Mars. In addition to Apollo, he collaborated with NASA on the Ranger and the Venus Mariner programs, and contributed to the Soviet Mars-5 mission in 1973. An expert in planetary mapping, he created the International Center for Planetary Photography at Meudon.
Dollfus was a pioneer of space exploration through his practice of astronomy using balloons. Bringing together his two passions, astronomy and balloons, he designed prototypes that allowed him to take a telescope up to 6000 meters (19,700 feet) in the air. His most famous flight was that of April 24, 1959, when taking off from Villacoublay near Paris, he reached a height of 14,000 meters (45,920 feet), which remains the French record to this day. That day, he took to the air alone, in an airtight capsule suspended from 102 balloons, and opened the door to the study of astronomy from space. The data he collected during that flight allowed him to infer the existence of water on Mars.
Dollfus was also dedicated to passing on his passion for astronomy and never refused an opportunity to share his enthusiasm through lectures, debates, and talks to astronomy clubs. He mentored students in astronomy and planetary sciences, and many of these students are directly involved in planetary and space exploration today.
The Mars Institute's own Dr Pascal Lee was a student intern of Professor Dollfus's at the Observatory of Paris-Meudon. Together they published a scientific paper titled "Crystal Clouds in the Martian Atmosphere". "Audouin Dollfus was wonderful to be, and to work, with. He was an insightful scientist, an adventurous explorer, and a true visionary of space exploration" recalls Pascal Lee. "He knew how to think out of the box, and also had a delightful sense of humor".
Audouin Dollfus agreed to join the Mars Institute's Board of Advisors at the time of the Institute's creation, and has stayed on ever since.
The Mars Institute extends its warmest condolences to Professor Dollfus's family, colleagues, and friends, and to all those whose lives he touched. Audouin Dollfus will be missed, but he is leaving us with an inspiring legacy.
First image of Audouin Dollfus copyright DR.
July 4, 2010
HMP Research Station Deployment Underway
Resolute Bay, July 4 - Today, John W. Schutt (HMP Base Camp Manager), Jesse Weaver (HMP Lead Technician), Travis Oaks (HMP Assistant Technician), David Weaver (HMP Builder), and Nathan Kalluk (HMP Field Assistant) flew from Resolute Bay to the HMP Research Station on Devon Island to open up camp. Camp was found to be in good shape. Spirits are high. Dr Pascal Lee, HMP Director, is scheduled to arrive with additional team members on Thursday, 8 July, aboard a Air National Guard C-130 Hercules transport plane of the 102nd Rescue Wing based on Long Island, N.Y.
May 19, 2010
Mars Institute "Moon-1" Humvee Rover reaches Devon Island, High Arctic
PRESS RELEASE: Moffett Field, CA and Vancouver, BC, May 19, 2010 - An international team of researchers led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee successfully reached Devon Island, High Arctic, on Sunday, 16 May, 2010 after a 13-day, 150 km vehicular journey from Cornwallis Island to Devon Island, along the fabled Northwest Passage.
The Northwest Passage Drive Expedition team of six departed Resolute Bay, Nunavut, on 5 May aboard the Mars Institute's Moon-1 Humvee Rover and two snowmobiles. After encountering several days of immobilizing snowstorms and extremely rough sea-ice conditions, the team finally reached the west coast of Devon Island late in the evening of 16 May.
"It's both a great joy and a relief to get our Moon-1 onto solid ground on Devon Island" said Lee. "This final sea-ice crossing was quite a challenge, but we had a fantastic team and vehicle, and we just kept working at it".
Accompanying Lee were crewmembers Joe Amarualik, John W. Schutt, and Jesse Weaver, and the Jules Verne Adventures documentary team comprising filmmaker Jean-Christophe Jeauffre and director of photography Mark Carroll.
The primary goal of the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition is to transfer the Mars Institute's new Moon-1 Humvee Rover to Devon Island, a location known to present unique scientific and operational similarities to the surface of the Moon and Mars. There, the rover will be used as a concept vehicle simulating future pressurized rovers to be driven by humans to explore other planetary bodies. The expedition is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island where research in space science and exploration is being conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Mars Institute, the SETI Institute, and other partnering organizations.
Last year, Lee's team logged a record-breaking drive of 494 km in the Moon-1 along a western section of the Northwest Passage, the longest distance ever driven on sea-ice in a road vehicle. This year, the team applied the same winning strategy to avoid the roughest areas of sea-ice along the Wellington Channel. It used a variety of radar satellite remote sensing data and its own surface reconnaissance by snowmobile to find the smoothest possible ice route between Abandon Bay, Cornwallis Island, and Domville Point, Devon Island, where the Moon-1 is now safely parked.
The next step will be to drive the Moon-1 overland to the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station on Devon Island later this Summer, where it will be used in conjunction with the Mars-1 Humvee Rover already deployed there to begin long-range dual pressurized rover exploration studies.
"The arrival of the Moon-1 on Devon Island ushers in a new phase in our space exploration work that will be critical to enabling humans to explore other worlds sooner, more safely, and more productively"" remarked Lee.
Dr. Pascal Lee
Marc Boucher, CEO
May 5, 2010
Northwest Passage Drive Expedition - 2010 Begins
From 5 - 8 May 2010, the Mars Institute's Dr Pascal Lee and his teammates Joe Amarualik, John W. Schutt, Jesse Weaver, Jean-Christophe Jeauffre, and Mark Carroll will be completing the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition. They will be journeying from Resolute Bay, Cornwallis Island, to the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station, Devon Island, High Arctic, aboard the Moon-1 Humvee Rover, a simulator for future pressurized rovers that will be used in long distance human exploration on the Moon and Mars. Follow their scientific odyssey here as they drive a final 200 km across the Arctic, including the critical 35 km stretch of rough sea-ice separating Cornwallis Island from Devon Island.
Press Release: Mars Institute team to complete Arctic sea-ice drive along fabled Northwest Passage to reach "Mars on Earth"
Mountain View, CA, 5 May 2010 - An international team led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee will depart the Arctic community of Resolute Bay today aboard the Moon-1 Humvee Rover on a sea-ice crossing expedition. The team is headed for the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island, High Arctic, a remote outpost dedicated to space exploration on the world's largest uninhabited island.
The Moon-1 is an experimental vehicle simulating future pressurized rovers that will one day allow humans to explore long distances on the Moon and Mars. Last year, the scientists completed a record-setting 494 km drive on sea-ice in the Moon-1 along the fabled Northwest Passage between Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Adverse weather and ice conditions, however, prevented Devon Island from being reached. The Moon-1 eventually hitched a ride on a US Air National Guard transport plane to Resolute Bay, where it is now in position to begin the final leg of its journey.
The team faces a challenging traverse across 200 kilometers of frigid, snow-covered barrens, including 35 kilometers across the rough ice-filled Wellington Channel. "If all goes well, we should be on Devon Island within a few days. But we are not taking it for granted. Nature has to cooperate", cautioned Lee. Last year, the rover's rear section fell through a lead (crack) in the ice, but was salvaged by the team using the Moon-1's powerful front winch and unique traction capabilities.
The Northwest Passage Drive Expedition is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island where field research in space science and exploration is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Canadian Space Agency, the SETI Institute, and other research partners of the Mars Institute.
The present traverse will allow collection of valuable scientific and technical data that will help plan future long-range rover traverses on the Moon and Mars. Snow and sea-ice thickness measurements will also be made to monitor Climate Change and the long-term evolution of the Arctic environment.
Accompanying Lee are Northwest Passage Drive Expedition veterans Joe Amarualik, John W. Schutt, and Jesse Weaver, and the Jules Verne Adventures documentary team comprising filmmaker Jean-Christophe Jeauffre and director of photography Mark Carroll.
During Northwest Passage Drive Expedition - 2010, daily updates on the status of the expedition may be obtained from the above websites and/or by contacting:
Kira Lorber, NWPDX-2010 EPO Liaison
Dr. Pascal Lee
January 29, 2010
HALL: A Phobos and Deimos Sample Return Mission
The proposed HALL mission abstract was submitted and accepted for the 41st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
Hall is a proposed NASA-led international robotic lander and sample return mission (SRM) to explore and return samples from the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. The mission will address the outstanding issues of the origin, nature, and evolution of both Phobos and Deimos, as well as provide unique insights into early solar system processes, planetary formation, and the evolution of Mars itself. Hall is being developed as a New Frontiers-class mission and will use solar electric propulsion. Hall is named after American astronomer Asaph Hall who, in 1877, discovered the two moons of Mars.
Download the abstract:
January 27, 2010
Destination Phobos: humanity's next giant leap, New Scientist
"PHOBOS is a name you are going to hear a lot in the coming years. It may be little more than an asteroid - just two-billionths of the mass of our planet, with no atmosphere and hardly any gravity - yet the largest of Mars's two moons is poised to become our next outpost in space, our second home."
"One option the Augustine report suggested would take NASA crews to nearby asteroids and to the moons of Mars. "The bulk of the cost of a Mars mission is getting people to the surface and back again," says Pascal Lee, chairman of the Mars Institute in Moffett Field, California. "If you wait for everything to be ready, it will be decades. Phobos offers us a way to get to the very doorstep of Mars."
September 9, 2009
Human Missions to Phobos
On 1 September 2009, Dr Buzz Aldrin visited NASA Ames Research Center and met with Mars Institute chairman Dr Pascal Lee at the NASA Lunar Science Institute. They discussed future human missions to Near-Earth Objects and Phobos. Pascal's dog, Ping Pong, was delighted to meet the Apollo 11 astronaut. Deep space missions to NEOs and Phobos will help pave the way to Mars.
June 24, 2009
HMP-2009 Field Season is a GO!
The 2009 HMP field season is almost upon us. This Saturday, June 27, the first participants from the Mars Institute core team will make their from Vancouver to Resolute Bay by way of an Air National Guard C-130 from the Long Island Air National Guard Rescue Unit. This year will see over 50 participants from 11 organizations visiting the HMP Research Station on Devon Island including representatives from the Canadian Space Agency and NASA. For more detail on the field season please visit our The Haughton-Mars Project web site.
April 24, 2009
Mars Institute "Moon-1" Humvee Rover Successfully Completes 500 km Drive Along Northwest Passage
PRESS RELEASE: Mountain View, CA and Vancouver, BC, 24 April 2009 - An international team of researchers led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee successfully reached the arctic community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada on Friday, 17 April, after an 8-day, 500 km vehicular trek on sea-ice along the fabled Northwest Passage. The team of five departed Kugluktuk, Nunavut on 10 April aboard the Mars Institute’s Moon-1 Humvee Rover and two snowmobiles, and logged a record-breaking total of 494 km, the longest distance ever driven on sea-ice in a road vehicle.
April 9, 2009
Follow the 2009 Northwest Passage Drive Expedition
You can follow the 2009 Northwest Passage Drive Expedition at the Haughton-Mars Project website.
March 13, 2009
2009 Northwest Passage Drive Expedition Sponsorship Opportunities Still Available
The Mars Institute today unveiled its new Moon-1 rover which be used on the upcoming 2009 Northwest Passage Drive Expedition. And while we do have several sponsors who've donated generously there are still sponsorship opportunities available. For more information please contact:
PRESS RELEASE: Driving Across The Northwest Passage to Make Polar History
An international team of scientists has launched an expedition to drive the Northwest Passage on sea-ice this spring, marking the first time the Passage has ever been travelled in a road vehicle. The team, led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee, has a dual goal of studying climate change on Earth and advancing the human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
The mission is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island, High Arctic, where research in space science and exploration is being conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
The 2,000 kilometre trek will be undertaken in the Mars Institute's new Moon-1 Humvee Rover, an all-terrain exploration rover derived from the vehicle commonly used in the military. The team will be measuring the thickness of sea-ice along the entire length of the Northwest Passage. The unique set of measurements will be key to understanding current and future effects of climate change throughout the Arctic.
"If we're successful, this will be the first, and possibly the last, time the Northwest Passage is driven in a road vehicle," says Lee. "Current trends in climate change on a planetary scale have resulted in thinner and less durable ice in the Arctic, possibly ending opportunities to do similar drives for much longer. We want to use this window in time to better understand the changes affecting the Arctic and Earth as a planet."
The Mars Institute team will be travelling west to east across the Arctic for two to three weeks, ending at their established research base, the HMP Research Station on Devon Island.
In addition to studying climate change, the team will use the traverse to look at how a variety of terrestrial ice and snow features, with potential counterparts on other planets, are formed. They will also research how to effectively plan and execute future long-range pressurized rover excursions on the Moon and Mars.
The Northwest Passage is an infamous, ice-choked seaway connecting the Atlantic to Asia. Finding the passage eluded explorers for centuries and was only achieved at a great cost in lives.
"This will be an exciting voyage," says Lee. "We hope the journey will help everyone understand Earth better and also provide guidance on how to explore other worlds together in the future. Although these are difficult economic times, exploration remains an essential part of what we need to do to create a stronger future for humanity and our planet."
The Mars Institute leads pioneering field research with NASA and the SETI Institute on the use of pressurized rovers for human planetary exploration. It has successfully operated the Mars-1 Humvee Rover at the Haughton-Mars Project research station since 2003. It is adding the Moon-1 Humvee Rover to its fleet to conduct dual-rover exploration studies on Devon Island in the future.
Sheila Calder / Lindsay Marett
Dr. Pascal Lee
All images copyright 2009 Mars Institute
Mars Institute Projects