Today’s blog post is a guest post from my good friend and colleague, Bruce Ngataierua (@bruceyn). It outlines his recent ‘mission to Mars’.
Hi my name is Bruce Ngataierua and I was involved in a analogue simulation mission called KiwiMars 2012. The mission was to send 6 people to live in a simulated environment that would be analogous to living on the surface of Mars.
We travelled to the USA and stayed in a place called the Mars Desert Research Station (M.D.R.S) in the middle of the Utah desert. We undertook many activities that simulated what it would be like to actually live on Mars like eating dried packaged food like astronauts eat, walking around in simulated space suits and conserving our resources like water.
The landscape was an awesome sight and it was like nothing I had experienced before. It was a strange “alien” world of hills and rocks and walking around in a space suit was a bit strange as it made you aware of all your senses. You could hear your breath and you could only communicate to others effectively through your radio link.
The mission went from 23 April to 5 May 2012 and the main objective was an education and outreach programme where students from New Zealand would interact with the crew on how they found their experiences during the mission
The other objective was to produce resources in the Planet Earth and Beyond (PEB) strand of the Science curriculum to help teachers and students in the teaching, learning and engagement of space sciences in New Zealand
Lesson Plans were planned under a range of topics including:
- Geology-classifying rocks
- Astronomy-solar garden and telling the time
- Art/Creativity-mission patch
- Geography-maps and the website (link given below) http://www.kiwispace.org/display/MDRSMS/Dashboard
We communicated with mission control in NZ at Carter Observatory everyday during the mission dates and I spoke with over 500 students either at mission control or online inquiring about the how the mission was going.
Common questions asked included…
- The environment and living conditions
- What we saw and did
Resources are still being developed post mission and the possibility of being involved with another project called “Spaceward Bound”. This is a possible “Space Camp” idea here in NZ with the help of NASA personnel to train our students.
Overall the mission was a great success and we had an awesome time. It was certainly a unique experience that could have “far reaching” possibilities for the future of space exploration in our future.
Bruce let me know that if you want to ask any questions about his time away, please feel free to contact him through twitter or leave a comment below. Also if you want Bruce (or another crew member) to visit your school then please get in touch with him.