Mars analogs are environments on earth which have similar characteristics to Mars. Different analog locations are used for different studies. Total immersion simulation at such analogs can offer unprecedented opportunity of understanding what the life of the first Mars settlers will be
MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION MDRS
The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is one of the Mars Analog Research Stations operated by the Mars Society. Its purpose is to simulate settlement conditions of the first manned mission to Mars. Through MDRS, we can learn about living and working on another planet.
The Mars Society builds its analogs in terrestrial locations where environmental conditions, geological features and biological attributes are close to those found on Mars. The field base consists of a hub that serves as the center of activities, a greenhouse, an observatory, and assorted open areas. The crew typically consists of small group of trained professionals of different backgrounds (engineers, scientists, medical doctors, artists and others) who live together for certain amount of time and conduct different research projects planned for their mission under strict safety protocol reflecting a real mission on Mars.
Even only as an approximation of the real habitat that one day will be constructed on the Red Planet, MDRS still provides insight into what physical and social challenges the first Mars settlers might encounter during their exploration of the harsh Martian environment. Lessons learned during the simulation can have invaluable share in the first real mission design to another planet.
NASA HERA STATION
HUMAN EXPLORATION RESEARCH ANALOG
The Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) represents an analog for simulation of isolation, confinement and remote
conditions of mission exploration scenarios. Studies suitable for this analog may include, but are not limited to behavioral health and performance assessments, communication and autonomy studies, human factors evaluations and exploration medical capabilities assessments and operations. The Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), was formerly known as the Deep Space Habitat, was transferred from the Johnson Space Center Engineering Directorate to Human Research Project in 2013. This unique modular three-story habitat was designed and created through a series of university competitions and was previously used in the Desert Research and Technology Studies in the Arizona desert.
Images: MWOB Susan Jewell MD testing at NASA HERA
The HERA will provide a high-fidelity research venue for scientists to use in addressing risks and gaps associated with human performance during spaceflight. Historically, the habitat was used for exploration engineering systems demonstrations. In its new role, the HERA will serve as an analog for simulation of isolation, confinement, and remote conditions of mission exploration scenarios.