Purdue Team to Take Over Mars Simulation

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(L to R) Cesare Guariniello, Kshitij Mall, Melanie Grande, Samuel Albert, Mark Gee, Justin Mansell and, via computer on Skype, Max Fagin. (photo courtesy Purdue University) (L to R) Cesare Guariniello, Kshitij Mall, Melanie Grande, Samuel Albert, Mark Gee, Justin Mansell and, via computer on Skype, Max Fagin. (photo courtesy Purdue University)

A group of Purdue University students and alumni will Saturday take command of the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. The seven-member team, known as Boilers 2 Mars, will spend two weeks leading a mission at the facility performing their own experiments as well as tests on equipment at the station and some medical procedures. The team was selected by the Purdue chapter of The Mars Society, which built the facility in 2001.

The group is the first crew comprised entirely of Purdue students and alumni to take part in a mission at the facility. The university says the team has met frequently to prepare individual projects and each members has undergone a variety of training sessions, including astronomy, radio-based navigation, and survival and medical care.

Purdue says some of the experiments the team will perform include a study of microbiomes and interaction between pathogens carried by astronauts and plants in the green habitat, navigation during extra-vehicular activities with radio signals, use of virtual reality for task training in comparison to traditional training, and use of yoga for stress relief.

The team's commander, Purdue alumnus Max Fagin, took part in a Mars simulation at the facility in 2010. He says the facility presents challenges while eliminating the risks and costs of leaving Earth.

"In doing so, it provides an environment that is several steps above a lab bench but is still within reach of a determined team like us," said Fagin. "Simulations like this are an essential and cost-effective way to test equipment, procedures and people for a mission to Mars before it actually happens."

The team will pass over command to the next team January 14. Purdue says the team's effort is being funded from a variety of sources, including the Honors College and the Purdue Engineering Student Council.

You can learn more about Boilers 2 Mars in the video below:

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