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Jonas Dino
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5612/9000

December XX, 2006
NASA Sends Students to the Utah Desert for Mars Research
Two dozen explorers will soon don space suits, live in an enclosed Mars habitat and conduct a research expedition here on Earth to learn about the future exploration of the moon and Mars.

As part of NASA’s Spaceward Bound Program, 24 crewmembers will conduct four, two-week training and research expeditions from November 2006 to January 2007 at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the Utah desert. Each crew of six is comprised of a commander and a mixed group of graduate students, undergraduates and recent graduates. The crews will be responsible for all aspects of the mission, from logistics to research and extravehicular activities (EVA).

"The goal of Spaceward Bound: MDRS is to prepare our future leaders for human exploration of the moon and Mars," said Liza Coe, co-project manager for the Spaceward Bound project at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "The expeditions give crew members an authentic research experience that research has shown to be fundamental to exemplary training and retention of students in science and engineering fields as they transition from school to work."

As with any exploration, a significant portion of the work is done before the expedition. Crews develop research assignments and determine what equipment is necessary during their mission. The expeditions themselves are rigorous, with crews working 12- to 15-hour days. The crews perform actual research on local geology, microbiology and crewmember physiology, as well as field-testing of new EVA hardware, rigging data loggers, and performing work-study task and procedure analysis.

During the expeditions, the crews will be in communication with the outside world via a Web blog, where students and the public can follow the mission. On Dec. 12, NASA Quest will conduct a Web cast from the MDRS. The Web cast will connect K–12 students who have been participating in a Lunar Research Station Design Challenge since September, with crewmembers and commanders who at that point will be living in the MDRS habitat.

Spaceward Bound is an educational program developed at NASA Ames Research Center, in partnership with the Mars Society. The program is funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. The focus of Spaceward Bound is to train the next generation of space explorers by having students and teachers participate in the exploration of scientifically interesting but remote and extreme environments on Earth as analogs for human exploration of the moon and Mars.

The MDRS is one of four research stations established by the Mars Society in areas of the world that serve as analogs (similar environments) to Mars. The other research stations are located in the Canadian Arctic, the Australian outback and Iceland.

For more information about the Mars Desert Research Station mission, visit:

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For more information about the Spaceward Bound Project, visit:


For more information about the Lunar Research Station Design Challenge, visit:



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