Design and Development of the MARS-OZ Base

David Willson

Mars Society Australia

Dr. Jonathan Clarke

Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University

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Abstract: Mars Society Australia has proposed to build a Mars Base to explore the technical and physiological issues related to long term living on a similar base on Mars. The project is called MARS-OZ and is one of a series of similar projects constructed in Utah (MDRS) and Devon Island (FMARS) in the Canadian Arctic. A third (E-MARS) has been built and will be deployed in Iceland.

MARS-OZ will be located at Arkaroola in South Australia. The region has considerable value as a mars analogue, with features of astrogeological and astrobiological interest as well as a wide range of terrains. Arkaroola also offers a good combination of accessibility and security and is well located for outreach activities.

An evaluation and detailed discussion resulted in adopting a horizontally landed bent biconic lifting body shape with a ‘landed’ payload mass of 25-30 tonnes as the basis for the habitat structure. The methodology of assembling a number of biconic structures to form an extended integrated base was also explored. This provides a valuable comparison with other research stations which are vertical two (FMARS and MDRS) or three (E-MARS) deck structures. The outcome is a unique Australian design of a Mars base. The crew are provided, living quarters, exercise and medical facilities, work space to study field samples, airlocks, dust cleaning equipment, water and air recycling equipment and a garage with a rover (the W.A.- built Starchaser Marsupial) for long distance surface exploration.

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.

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.