What's it like to live on the planet Mars? The number of books and movies about the red planet are in the hundreds, but most of those are in the realm of fiction. The idea, too, of colonizing Mars isn't novel, but that endeavor might not happen for another few dozen or even hundred years. Thankfully, a group of forward-thinking people are preparing for that momentous enterprise, and one of those people, Angeliki Kapoglou, has captured in images that group's first steps.
Angeliki Kapoglou is a Materials Engineer with a list of accomplishments too numerous (and technical) to mention. Around the end of March of this year, she spent two weeks with five other equally accomplished specialists and professionals at the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah. To the benefit of photo enthusiasts (and Mars lovers alike), she kept a visual diary of her immersion there.
The Mars Research Desert Station (MDRS) is a project of the Mars Society, a group whose lofty goal is to explore and settle the planet Mars through grounded means beginning with experiments such as the MDRS.
The MDRS is one of two simulations being conducted by the society; the other is the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station in the Canadian Arctic, where the environment resembles the Martian planet very well. The MDRS in Utah is slightly less analogous to the red planet, but it is much easier to reach and maintain.
In this case, Kapoglou was part of MDRS Crew 102. During the 15-day simulation, the team did a variety of experiments including in-habitation and extra vehicular activities (EVAs), equipment repairs, Spirulina (food source) development, as well as daily observations on how the human individuals and the group as whole fared in the operation. Although two weeks isn't nearly enough to provide the training necessary for a Martian landing, it still provides the public (and the scientific community) a general idea of what it's like to live in a barren but beautiful outerland.
The crew's experience can be read over here, but if you're not one for technical jargon, Kapoglou's fantastical images provide an engrossing substitute. Kapoglou's simple photography along with the instagram-like filters makes the whole experience look like something out of a movie. It doesn't hurt that the Utah badlands provide a breathtaking backdrop to the whole experiment.
With photographs as fun as these, it's easy to forget that this is a serious experiment with the intention of getting humans to Mars eventually. These early simulations and experiments just might be the first small steps towards man leaping onto Mars.
Interested in living the Martian experience? Check out both the Mars Society and MDRS websites. If these images don't give you the full impression of what it's like to live on Mars, head on over to Angeliki Kapoglou's Flickr set featuring the Mars Desert Research Station (Utah) over here. If you're wondering whether the Martian landscape looks anything like the Utah badlands, check out the previous post. Finally, if you've ever wondered what the view from Mars might look like, check out this post here.