Expedition Two: A Multi-Goal Mars Analogue Expedition to the Arkaroola Region, Australia

Dr. Jonathan Clarke

Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University

Rocky Persaud

University of Toronto

--- Abstract - Paper - Profiles ---

Abstract: Expedition Two is the second in a series of fifteen pre-planned expeditions to Mars analogue locations worldwide under the auspices of the Mars Expedition Research Council (MERC). The long-term goal of the expeditions is to develop the strategies and technologies that will result in successful "Humans to Mars" surface exploration missions that are optimized for efficient science return. The goals of Expedition Two are threefold: research, outreach, and site selection for Mars Oz. The research goal will be met by a wide range of research projects in an approximately 200 km radius of Arkaroola in the northern Flinders Ranges in the Australian Outback.

There will be three main themes to the research: Field Science - Baseline geological and biological data on the field area and its Mars analogue significance. Sites visited will include springs, watercourses, dry lakes, outwash fans and dune fields. Field Engineering and Exploration Operations - Trials of the MarsSkin 3 analogue Mechanical Counter Pressure suit and associated systems, such as data loggers and a range of spectrometers such as the PIMA. Human Factors psychological profiling of an international, multi-disciplinary team of expeditioners, cognitive function, leadership philosophies, and crew social interaction. Because simulation is not a key part of the expedition, this will allow comparison of many performance indicators with those expeditions to places, such as MDRS and FMARS, which are carried out under such conditions. In addition to the science and engineering goals, the expedition will provide an excellent platform for public education and outreach.

Outreach - Previous expeditions by MSA (Jarntimarra-1 in 2001) and the first joint Mars Society Expedition (Expedition One to Utah in 2003) led to extensive print, broadcast, and web-based coverage in Australia, Canada, the US, and France, as well as internationally through the BBC. The publicity and outreach will heighten the profile of the Mars Society, sponsoring agencies, and both Mars analogue and Flinders Ranges research.

Education - Expedition two will be interacting with groups of students from the International Space Universitys Summer School Program, undergraduates from the University of South Australia and the University of Technology Sydney, and with National Science Week. The Jarntimarra-1 expedition selected the Arkaroola region as Australias prime Mars analogue research location. Expedition Two will select the site for MARS-OZ, the fourth of four Mars Analogue Research Stations (the other three are in the U.S.A., Canada and will be erected in Iceland), somewhere in the region. This will require close consultation between landowners and the MARS-OZ design team in both the site selection process and planning the construction of both the MARS-OZ modules and associated infrastructure. Expedition Two will therefore lay the foundation for future expeditions under the aegis of MERC. In selecting the site for MARS-OZ and collecting baseline scientific data on the environment, Expedition two will also be enabling future expeditions by MSA to the Arkaroola region.

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: Rocky Persaud is pursuing graduate studies at the University of Toronto, developing geological models of sedimentary basins on Mars. He was a Science Collaborator on the Haughton-Mars Project, and was a crewmember of Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station during the 2001 field season. A member of several space advocacy groups, he was a director of the Canadian Space Society, a founding member of the Mars Society's Toronto Chapter, former editor of the Canadian Space Gazette, a delegate to the Space Generation Summit, and currently is Research Director (ex President) of the Mars Society of Canada. Before entering the field of planetary geology, Rocky obtained his first bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto. Rocky was co-coordinator and Principal Investigator for Expedition One at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in 2003.