|Area||55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi)|
|Length||524 km (325.6 mi)|
|Width||155–476 km (96–296 mi)|
|Highest elevation||1,920 m (6300 ft)|
|Highest point||Devon Ice Cap|
Devon Island (Inuktitut: ᑕᓪᓗᕈᑎᑦ, Tallurutit) is an island in Canada and the largest uninhabited island (no permanent residents) in the world. It is located in Baffin Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is one of the largest members of the Arctic Archipelago, the second-largest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Canada's sixth-largest island, and the 27th-largest island in the world. It has an area of 55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi) (slightly smaller than Croatia). The bedrock is Precambrian gneiss and Paleozoic siltstones and shales. The highest point is the Devon Ice Cap at 1,920 m (6,300 ft) which is part of the Arctic Cordillera. Devon Island contains several small mountain ranges, such as the Treuter Mountains, Haddington Range and the Cunningham Mountains. The notable similarity of its surface to that of Mars has attracted interest from scientists.
History and settlement
Robert Bylot and William Baffin were the first Europeans to sight Devon Island in 1616. William Edward Parry charted its south coast in 1819–20, and named it North Devon, after Devon in England, a name which was changed to Devon Island by the end of the 1800s. In 1850, Edwin De Haven sailed up Wellington Channel and sighted the Grinnell Peninsula.
An outpost was established at Dundas Harbour in 1924, and it was leased to Hudson's Bay Company nine years later. The collapse of fur prices led to the dispersal of 52 Baffin Island Inuit families on the island in 1934. It was considered a disaster due to wind conditions and the much colder climate, and the Inuit chose to leave in 1936. Dundas Harbour was populated again in the late 1940s, but it was closed again in 1951. Only the ruins of a few buildings remain today.
Because of its relatively high elevation and its extreme northern latitude, Devon Island supports only a meagre population of muskox and small birds and mammals; the island does support hypolith communities. Animal life is concentrated in the Truelove Lowland area of the island, which has a favourable microclimate and supports relatively lush Arctic vegetation. Temperatures during the brief (40 to 55 days) growing season seldom exceed 10 °C (50 °F), and in winter can plunge to as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). With a polar desert ecology, Devon Island receives very little precipitation.
Devon Island is also notable for the presence of the Haughton impact crater, created some 39 million years ago when a meteorite about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter crashed into what were then forests. The impact left a crater about 23 km (14 mi) in diameter, which was a lake for several million years.
Devon Island Research Station
The Devon Island Research Station was established in 1960 and it is maintained by the Arctic Institute of North America. It is located in Truelove Lowland, on the northeast coast of Devon Island ().
The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station project entered its third season in 2004. In July 2004, Devon Island became the temporary home for five scientists and two journalists, who were to use the Mars-like environment to simulate living and working on that planet. April 2007 through 21 August 2007 was the longest simulation period and included 20 scientific studies.
The Haughton crater is now considered one of the world's best Mars analog sites. It is the summer home to NASA's complementary scientific program, the Haughton–Mars Project. The Island's freezing temperatures, isolation, and remoteness offer scientists matchless research opportunities. Devon Island’s harsh climate and barren terrain endeared it to NASA as the Arctic day and night cycle and restricted communications capabilities offer challenges similar to those presented by long-duration space flights.
On July 16, 2013, the Canadian Space Agency assigned Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen to a secondment with the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration of the University of Western Ontario at Haughton Crater in preparation for a potential future crewed exploration of Mars, the Moon or the asteroids.
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