The Mars Society Builds Infrastructure for Year-Long FMARS Mission

Crew members checking equipment during EVA
Members of The Mars Society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station check out their equipment during this year’s expedition. Photo Credit: The Mars Society

The Mars Society announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (EU-INTERACT) to use the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), located on Devon Island in Northern Canada, as one of the network’s field stations. This partnership comes just after The Mars Society announced an effort to conduct a one-year “mission” in the Canadian High Arctic on May 20, called “Arctic 365,” to learn more about what it will take to visit the Red Planet.

To lead this effort with EU-INTERACT, The Mars Society has established a climate research team including Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar (World Climate Research Program and World Meteorological Organization), Dr. Chris McKay (NASA), Dr. Alexander Kumar (Concordia Station, Antarctica), and Dr. Bruno D.C. Marino (Planetary Emissions Management, Inc.). The scientists are currently discussing the feasibility and possible program design at FMARS. FMARS is a Mars analog research station established by The Mars Society in 2000 to study various technologies and human factors needed to approach a manned Mars mission.

FMARS crew Devon Island The Mars Society posted on AmericaSpace
The Mars Society has been testing out methods to explore Mars at the FMARS location for over a decade. Photo Credit: The Mars Society

Acting Executive Director of The Mars Society, Susan Holden Martin, said: “The Arctic 365 mission will be the first experiment combining long-term isolation and a sustained program of field exploration under Mars mission simulation conditions, in a relevant Mars analog environment, ever done anywhere in the world. There is a growing interest in environment change in the Arctic, and so it makes perfect sense to extend our program to terrestrial climate research, from which we may discover important clues as to the history not only of Earth’s climate, but that of Mars as well. ”

She added that this initiative can glean information not only about Mars, but also about our home planet: “By examining the physical processes that shape the Earth’s climate, we may find important clues to similar processes on Mars, and perhaps discover what may have led to the development of life on Earth. In the distant future, information about Earth’s climate and the effect of greenhouse gases may be useful in developing a plan for terraforming Mars.”

Why the Arctic? Martin related: “The Arctic permafrost, glaciers, and the Haughton Impact provide relevant analogs to Mars science. In addition, changes to Earth’s climate are amplified in the Arctic, and so changes there are considered to be an early indicator of changes that can be expected on a more global scale.”

Martin also expounded on how the terrestrial research can shed some insight into a manned Mars mission in the not-so-near future, adding, “The only way to learn how to conduct extraterrestrial field science is to develop the procedures, robotic capabilities, and human-machine interfaces by doing actual field science in terrestrial analog settings under similar constraints as will be experienced on an extraterrestrial field mission expedition.”

According to Martin, Arctic 365 will ultimately serve three goals: “To provide a test bed for studying the many aspects of field exploration operations on a human mission to Mars; to provide a capable field research laboratory to help further our understanding of the Arctic, the Earth, Mars, and the possibilities and limits of life on our planet and beyond; and to inform and inspire people around the world to greater interest in space and science by bringing before them in a tangible form the vision of human exploration of Mars.”

For more information about Arctic 365 and The Mars Society, visit:


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  1. The biggest problem with these ‘isolation’ studies is we don’t need to send colonists to mars in such isolation.

    There is a huge difference between sending four colonists every 26 months vs. sending 60 in just two missions as I propose. The first dozen can be sent together for $2b. Because they prepare the way, the next four dozen can be sent for less cost per person.

    60 people means we’re serious and gives us a base number required for industry. We can develop mars over centuries or do much the same in a decade.

    All the following mission can have a huge cost reduction. We just send sperm (not my actual proposal but just to note it is one of many possibilities.)

    We already have examples of people living in such isolation. It’s called the family farm in low density areas of our country.

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