A group of scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has just launched a new project in Iceland in preparation for a future journey to Mars, Vísir reports.
NASA, in fact, plans on sending men to Mars and the Moon in 2030, and has chosen Iceland as the best spot to begin preparations.
Their goal is to take advantage of the unusual characteristics of the Icelandic landscape, whose terrain and canyons are said to be very similar to those found on Mars, in order to better understand what a mission in space would look like and what kind of technology and capabilities might be needed in order to survive. Scientists Jennifer Heldmann and Darlene Lim held a lecture at the University of Reykjavík yesterday to explain their project at length.
“We’re in the beginning stages right now, so we’re just starting our work here in Iceland,” Dr. Heldmann says. “We’re collecting data, we have folks in the field taking samples, flying UAVs and taking pictures.”
The general hope is to be able to kick off NASA exercises in Iceland as early as next year, including a series of simulations where scientists will enact their journey to Mars, the collection of data and samples as well as their communications with Earth. To this end, research projects are already ongoing around the capital area, but in the future scientists will also be going out to more remote regions of the countryside.
“We’ll also have the scientists enact the discussion of what they’re collecting with people who are sitting in remote science teams, and have that conversation go back and forth,” Dr. Lim explains. “It’s really exciting because we can—before we go to places like Mars—practice doing that here on Earth.”
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