by R Daniel Golden
Seven Mars One candidates met up at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) outside of Hanksville, Utah from May 16-18 to help the Mars Society complete some projects for the end of the field season.
“At the end each season we clean, reorganize, and do projects to improve the simulation,” said Shannon Rupert, the director of MDRS. “I think it was awesome. It is one of the best cleanup parties we have had and we did it in less time.”
The candidate team helped with multiple projects at the Mars analog research station including cleaning and painting the kitchen area of the station habitat.
“When we first walked in Friday, the habitat wasn’t in great shape: it was cluttered; there were nail holes and spotty paint on the walls,” said Kenya Armbrister, a candidate from Oakland, California. “It didn’t look like a place I would want to stay in for two weeks.”
With the many simulation crews coming through each year bringing and leaving supplies the research station can become cluttered with extra food, research notes, and old movies.
The team also worked on some improvements to the simulated tunnel from the habitat building to the observatory. Previously, rocks and rope marked the pathway; the Mars One improvements included marking it with pickets and lining it with sand and flat stones. The Mars Society plans to add fencing to complete the tunnel simulation.
“Had we not build the path, nature would have made it muddy and hard to walk on or washed it away,” said Kay Radzik Warren, a candidate from Reno, Nevada.
Since water still flows through the area, the candidates built a bridge to allow the water to pass without destroying the path or making it difficult to walk on for the simulation crews wearing “Mars suits.”
“Not only were we able to improve the infrastructure, we were able to do it using resources around the site,” said Paul Bakken, a candidate from Eagan, Minnesota. “All of the rocks and sand came from within a quarter mile of the research site.”
The improvements to the station make it a more livable and suitable environment for Mars studies.
“The cooperation is important,” said Ken Sullivan, the refit organizer and a candidate from Farmington, Utah. “There are a lot of different Mars organizations, so for people from groups as big as Mars One and Mars Society to work together is very exciting.”
As well as supporting The Mars Society and helping with the MDRS, the refit also gave the crew an opportunity to meet and get to know some of the other American Mars One candidates.
“I love it. I would come out anytime to meet other candidates or help Mars Society,” said Cody don Reeder, a candidate from Grantsville, Utah.