Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station

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FMARS
Image credit: Brian Shiro
An external view of the FMARS Habitat
OrganisationThe Mars Society
LocationDevon Island, Nunavut, Canada
First mission date7th July 2000
Mission capabilities
Typical crew size6
Maximum crew size8
Typical mission duration30 days
Operational history
Days occupieddays
Technical data
Internal volume120m3
Footprintm2
Facilities
Technical equipment
  • Electric stove
  • Microwave
  • Bread Machine
Scientific equipment
  • Microscope
  • Vortex Machine
  • Autoclave
  • Lab Glove Box
EVA environment
  • Two airlocks
  • Mars analog environment
  • Crater, River, Lakes within 5km
  • Hydrothermal chimney, patterned ground, stromatolites and fossilised brain coral
  • Biofilm, algal mats, arctic poppies and other small flowering plants
  • Lemmings, polar bears, birds

The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) is the first of two Mars analogue simulation facilities owned and operated by the Mars Society. The station is located on Devon Island in Nunavut, Canada beside the Haughton impact crater. The location was chosen as both a polar desert and Mars analogue environment, allowing the station to be used as a testbed for Mars human exploration as well as a field research laboratory. FMARS is the first research station of its kind to be built, completed in the summer of 2000.

Description

The station is located on Devon Island, approximately 165 kilometres (103 mi) north east of the hamlet of Resolute in Nunavut, Canada. The station is situated on Haynes Ridge, overlooking the Haughton impact crater, a 23 km (14 mi) diameter crater formed approximately 39 million years ago (late Eocene). The location is approximately 1,600 km (990 mi; 860 nmi) from the Geographic North Pole and approximately 1,500 km (930 mi; 810 nmi) from the Magnetic North Pole (as of 2010).


The establishment of a human Mars exploration analog research station on Devon Island was first proposed by Pascal Lee in April 1998. The station was officially selected as the Mars Society's first project at the society's Founding Convention in August 1998. A scouting expedition was undertaken by Robert Zubrin and Kurt Micheels in 1999 where the site of the facility was selected. The structure of the facility was fabricated between January and June 2000 and was transported to the arctic via three C-130 aircraft in July 2000. The construction team travelled from Resolute Bay to Devon Island on a twin otter aircraft on July 4th. On July 5th and July 8th the station components were delivered over 6 successful paradrops. The seventh and final paradrop failed on July 8th due to separation of the parachute from the payload mid-air. The remainder of the habitat's components were transported to the construction site on July 18 and July 19. Construction was completed on July 28th and an inauguration ceremony was held for the approximately 50 individuals on the island. A symbolic crew occupied the station the night of the 28th and a shakedown crew then occupied the station until August 4th.


There have been 15 crews to the FMARS station over its 23-year lifespan. The longest period without habitation was the 6 years in-between crew 14 (2017) and crew 15 (2023). The station can house between 6 and 8 crew members who will typically spend a month on the island. Crews travel by commercial airline to Resolute Bay and then by twin otter to Devon Island, landing on a dirt airstrip next to the station. The primary mode of transportation on the island are All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) that are stored by the habitat.

Facility and equipment

Habitat

The habitat, commonly referred to as "the Hab", is a 7.7 metres (25 ft) tall cylinder that measures 8.3 metres (27 ft) in diameter and is used as the living area during simulation. Its basic size and design is based on the Mars Direct architecture and shares many similarities with the design of MDRS. It includes:

  • First floor: Simulated airlocks, shower and toilet, EVA Preparation room, and a combined science lab and engineering work area including an exercise zone with a treadmill, exercise bike and free weights.
  • Second Floor: Private crew staterooms, dining and entertainment area and a kitchen equipped with a sink, electric stove, bread machine and microwave. Accessible by ladder from the first floor.
  • Loft: Upper storage location for internal water storage tank, multipurpose storage area and additional sleeping space for seventh crew member. Accessible by ladder from the second floor.

Technical systems

  • Generator shack: Small wooden structure east of the habitat that can house 2 diesel generators for generating power to the station.
  • Incinerator: The SmartAsh incinerator is located behind the generator shack and is used to burn waste generated over the course of the crewed missions.
  • Secondary containment area: Empty and full barrels of diesel, gasoline and waste oil are stored in a containment area situated between the habitat and the generator shack.

EVA systems and environment

  • Spacesuits: Helmets, boots, gloves, suits and backpacks are stored in the EVA preparation room on the lower floor. The air is circulated using small fans in the backpacks and powered by 12V batteries.
  • Vehicles: 5 gasoline ATVs (2 2WD and 3 4WD vehicles) are stored outside of the habitat. A set of trails have been created between the habitat, the creek, the landing strip, the crater and a few other points of interest which the ATVs must use when traversing these routes. The terrain is very rocky consisting primarily of limestone often jagged and uneven.

Missions

Mission Specifications
Mission Crew Start date Duration (days)
FMARS1 Pascal Lee, Sam Burbank, Charles Cockell, Rainer Effenhauser, Darlene Lim, Frank Schubert 7 July 2001 4
FMARS2 Robert Zubrin, Steve Braham, Bill Clancey, Charles Cockell, Vladimir Pletser, Katy Quinn 10 July 2001 8
FMARS3 Robert Zubrin, John Blitch, Brent Bos, Steve Braham, Cathrine Frandsen, Charles Frankel, Christine Jayarajah 17 July 2001 12
FMARS4 Pascal Lee, John Blitch, Charles Cockell, Larry Lemke, Peter Smith, Carol Stoker 29 July 2001 5
FMARS5 Pascal Lee, Charles Cockell, Kelly Snook, Jaret Matthews, Samson Ootoovak
FMARS6 Pascal Lee, Charles Cockell, Tamarack Czarnik, Rocky Persaud, George James, Eric Tilenius
FMARS7 Robert Zubrin, Nell Beedle, K. Mark Caviezel, Frank Eckardt, Shannon Hinsa, Markus Landgraf, Emily MacDonald 9 July 2002 18
FMARS8 Dr. Steven McDaniel, Jody Tinsley, Ella Carlsson, April Childress, Peter Hong Ung Lee, Jan Osburg, Digby Tarvin 7 July 2003 24
FMARS9 Jason Held, Blazej Blazejowski, Akos Kereszturi, Judd Reed, Joan Roch, Shannon Rupert, Louise Wynn 2004
FMARS10 / Crew Greenleaf Judd Reed, Tiffany Vora, Anthony Kendall, Stacy Sklar, Tiziana Trabucchi, Andy Wegner 12 July 2005
FMARS11 / F-XI LDM (FMARS11 Long-Duration Mission) Melissa Battler, Matt Bamsey, Simon Auclair, Kim Binstead, Kathryn Bywaters, James Harris, Ryan L. Kobrick, Emily Colvin, Paul Graham 2007
FMARS12 Vernon Kramer, Joseph E. Palaia, IV, Stacy Cusack, Kristine Ferrone, Christy Garvin, Brian Shiro 2 July 2009 27
FMARS13 Joseph E. Palaia, IV, Adam Nehr, Justin Sumpter, Barry Stott, Dr. Richard Sugden, Richard Spencer, Garrett Edquist, James Moore, Dr. Alexander Kumar 10 July 2013 8
FMARS14 / MARS160 Alexandre Mangeot, Yusuke Murakami, Jonathan Clarke, Anastasiya Stepanova, Anushree Srivastava, Paul Knightly 15 July 2017
FMARS15 Andrew Wheeler, Terry Trevino, Olivia Drayson, Andy Greco, Caleb Pool 15 July 2023 15

Typical mission profile

Due to the location of FMARS, the first stage of mission planning is applying for permits from the Canadian and Inuit governments. Typically 1-2 months before travelling to Devon Island, the crew will meet in Colorado for mission planning and training. The crew will travel to Resolute Bay first and then by twin otter to Devon Island over the following few days. Once on the island no additional supplies will be delivered and so the crew must bring all food and necessary equipment with them.

Specifications

  • Habitable volume - approximately 120m3
  • Total crewed missions - 15