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Utah research station simulates life on Mars

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 15th, 2017

Courtesy photo A researcher suited up in her astronaut gear takes in southern Utah’s stark, Mars-like terrain.

Liz Mitchell helped Jeniffer Johnson and James Veselka into their spacesuits. She helped them hoist on their “oxygen” tanks, then she helped them screw on their space helmets and gloves.

After Johnson and Veselka were dressed, they stepped into a simulated airlock, and from there stepped outside. The shelter from which they’ve emerged is bordered on the west by short, redrock cliffs. Dry, barren sandstone hills dominate the views to the east and south. Few plants grow on the wind-swept, sunbaked ground beneath their moon boots. It only takes a little effort to imagine that they’re astronauts on Mars.

Mitchell, Johnson and Veselka are three of six students from McLennan Texas Community College in Texas, spending two weeks at the Mars Desert Research Station in Southern Utah.

The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is located about 20 miles northwest of Hanksville in Wayne County. The site was chosen specifically for its rocky, Mars-like barrenness. The MDRS is operated by the Mars Society, a nonprofit organization that wants to explore Mars and establish human settlements there.

For the complete article see the 03-15-2017 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-15-2017 paper.

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