The MARS-OZ Analogue Mars Research Station: a Status Report


Jonathan D. A. Clarke, 

Visiting Fellow, Department of Geology, Australian National University

David Willson

SEMF Holdings Pty. Ltd.



--- Abstract - Profile ---

Abstract: A detailed proposal for the Australian Mars Analogue Research Station MARS-OZ was prepared in and placed on the MSA web page in May 2002. The proposal was also presented at AMEC 2002.  The original MARS-OZ vision consisted of two pointed-nose cylindrical modules 18 m long and 4.5 m in diameter.  One module provided living and working space while the second module was designed to transport and store the Marsupial rover and other equipment.  The two modules would be transported as units rather than assembled on site.  These proposal documents provided a basis for further refinement and discussion.  As a result of input from many people from inside and outside MSA the design was revised in a second document placed on the web site as an addendum to the proposal in October 2002.  The modified design was externally very similar to the original, however the layout of decks of the living and work module was reversed to have the laboratory, airlock, and mess spaces on the lower deck and the sleeping and washing compartments on the upper deck.  The cargo module was also redesigned to allow storage of a larger rover, reflecting growth in the Marsupial design and to place the main workshop into the garage space. Experience at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) during the month-long mission of Expedition One in February 2003 provided valuable experience in living and working in a Mars analogue research station, albeit MDRS consisting of a single tuna-can shaped module.  This experience suggested some rearrangement in the internal design of the living module, placing both modules on skids, rather than wheels, and the provision of connecting tunnels.  A detailed cost estimate of MARS-OZ suggests that both modules could be constructed and deployed to site for A$300K, a significant reduction on previous cost estimates based on overseas experience.  Ongoing work includes completion of the preliminary design and planning of Expedition Two to Arkaroola, during which final site selection will take place. Despite this, raising the capital for MARS-OZ remains the greatest challenge and the highest priority.

PROFILE: Dr Jonathan Clarke is Director of Field Research with Mars Society Australia. A Canberra-based geologist with experience in the mineral and petroleum industry, academia, and in government surveys, Jonathan now works for Geoscience Australia. He has worked in every state of Australia, mostly in the arid interior. In addition he has practiced geology in New Zealand, the Philippines, and the Atacama desert of northern Chile, one of the most Mars-like areas on earth. Dr Clarke led the Jarntimarra-1 expedition, and took part in Expedition One in Utah, U.S.A, in 2003. Dr. Clarke was, until recently, Manager of the MARS-OZ project and is leader of Expedition Two, helping to coordinate and plan the activity from its inception.

PROFILE: David Willson is a Director of Mars Society Australia and the current Project Manager of MARS-OZ, the Australian Mars Research base, to be constructed in Arkaroola, South Australia. He started with the project 18 months ago, assisting Jonathan Clarke with the design. David has a background in industry as projects engineer, site engineer and mechanical design engineer. He has tendered, designed and implemented projects worth up to $10m. The industrial work includes shiploaders, stackers, mobile equipment, steam distribution systems and acid processing for wharf facilities, processing plants, mines and industrial sites. In particular he has been Responsible Mechanical Engineer and site engineer for a number of large (up to 450 tonne) mobile machines and has also been involved in a $1m research and development project which included a test rig scale model sizing and construction and computer simulation. David has a keen interest in space travel and is also a member of the Tasmanian Astronomical Society. He has had a private pilots licence since 1991. David has 2 children in their late teens and lives in Hobart Tasmania. He has also lived and worked in England and Germany.