Icelandic Highlands Help In Mars Research - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Highlands Help In Mars Research

Published February 27, 2016

Photos by
Anna Dommick

NASA has found Iceland’s Highlands similar enough to Mars to warrant conducting research here to learn more about the planet.

A recent conference at Harpa on the preservation of the Highlands had amongst its guests vulcanologist Dr. Christopher Hamilton, RÚV reports. Apart from being an expert on planetary vulcanology, Hamilton is also a part of NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).

Hamilton told attendees that many of the conditions which can be found in the Icelandic Highlands – volcanoes, glaciers, very strong winds and such – are comparable to those found on Mars. So much so, in fact, that he and about 30 NASA researchers came here last summer to conduct tests in the Highlands to help in Mars research.

“The importance of keeping the Highlands pure increases when an unexpected volcano erupts in an untouched environment,” he told attendees. “This gives us an opportunity to research an old landscape and the changes that occur there. If we intend to use Iceland as a point of comparison with Mars, it is important to keep a decided portion of the Highlands unspoiled.”

While this statement indicates NASA hopes to conduct more Mars-related research in the Highlands of Iceland, no specific plans have yet been announced.


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