European Mars Analog Research Station
|This article needs to be updated. (November 2010)|
A structure for EuroMARS was built, but placed in storage for several years due to lack of funding to ship to the Society's UK headquarters, and from there on to Iceland. During storage and shipping the structure was damaged beyond repair, so now the European chapters of the Mars Society are seeking funding to build a new habitat. The unit was primarily funded by the United Kingdom, with the Euro-MARS science programme operated by a consortium of European Mars Society Chapters comprising the UK, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Spain. The purpose of the facility is to enable scientists and engineers to conduct geological and biological exploration under constraints similar to those found on Mars, to develop field tactics based on those explorations, to test habitat design features and tools, and to assess crew selection protocols.
As with the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station and the Mars Desert Research Station, which were chosen for their physical similarity to Mars, Euro-MARS will be set up on Krafla, a volcanic rift in north-east Iceland, which bears strong resemblance to volcanically-produced features on the surface of Mars. A relative dry region, Krafla also demonstrates land features that have been produced by water action which are visually similar to those found in certain regions of Mars. Unlike the previous stations, Euro-MARS offers extensive opportunities for in-situ extremophile biology research of the kind that may be carried out during future human missions to Mars. This is because the Krafla region has extensive rifts and fumaroles which are home to anaerobic (non-oxygen breathing) microbes. Any life evidenced on Mars will also be anaerobic in nature, so developing field study techniques in Krafla will help define protocols and procedure that will be employed on Mars.
Euro-MARS was scheduled to commence field operations sometime in 2007, and represents the most advanced of the three habitats established by the Mars Society to date. It directly benefits from lessons learnt at the first two stations, and offers greatly improved living and research facilities, with the operational space inside the habitat spread across three decks rather than just the two decks common to the earlier stations. This design greatly improves the amount of living space available to the crew and provides an improved separation of living and working space.