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The MARS2013 Mars analog field simulation in the Northern Sahara in Morocco ended on 28th February 2013. The last field crew member returned on 6th March 2013 safely to home. Now 2.5 months later more than 40 people met in Vienna for a 1.5 days science workshop to present their first results and to discuss papers to be submitted to the special publication of the Astrobiology magazine on MARS2013 by the end of this year.
During both days the seminar room at the Technical University in Vienna was fully crowded; more than 40 people were attending the workshop and got the first insights into the science behind MARS2013.
And the science behind MARS2013 is manifold. From the geological experiments we learned, that will still need to train the analog astronauts better to get better descriptions of the samples they were taken. We saw that maps are extremely useful tool to plan, e.g. which area is interesting to investigate, but also to archive were samples were taken, which experiments was conducted where etc. And we’re at the moment looking into audio files of the analog astronauts describing a sample to understand the decision making process in collecting a sample.
With the Delta experiments the goal was to quantify the time delay when operating with a spacesuit simulator and the result was presented that when working with a spacesuit the analog astronaut takes 1/3 more time than with spacesuit. Walking with our without spacesuit does not show any significant time difference.
Also stress, emotion and group dynamics didn’t show any significant difference between the field crew and the staff in the Mission Support Center. That means it doesn’t matter if you working in the field or at the Mission Support Center, the level of stress and emotion are about the same.
Another interesting experiment was the detection of cavitities via thermal inertia. The problem is, that with satellite images many caves/cavitities can’t be detected because they’re too small. But with a infrared camera and measurements before sunrise and after sunset during MARS2013 even small cavitities showed thermal behavior.
The Cliffbot experiment showed that with this vehicule steep cliffs can easily explored and using Cliffbot in the spacesuit simulator is not a problem.
For the GLXP Puli rover the biggest challenge was the WiFi. The rover didn’t have problems running during a sandstorm, but a strong WiFi signal was essential, as the rover was steered by the Puli Mission Control from Budapest.
Another great success was demonstrated with MASH, the deployable and portable emergency shelter for Mars. The prototype worked very well, could be deployed by one analog astronaut and two analog astronauts fit comfortable in the shelter.
Besides from the presentations, MARS2013 science workshop also connected with the SpaceUp Paris event, which was ongoing the same weekend. Therefore it was possible to give first insights via a video conference to the audience in Paris. On both sides this format was greatly appreciated.
MARS2013 project is now officially history, but the next projects are already in planning.
Learn more about MARS2013 under mars2013.oewf.org
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