Mars on Earth

 Mdrs Media Images C01D03Hab01 Img 2
The Mars Society Desert Research Station is a facility near Hanksville, Utah where researchers pretend they're living on Mars. When researchers leave the facility to collect samples, hey wear spacesuits. Email communication is on a 20 minute delay to simulate the distance the radio signals would have to travel between Earth and the Red Planet. The idea is to identify the challenges, from logistical to mechanical to psychological issues, that a team visiting Mars might face. The current team originally included two MIT graduate students, Zarah Khan and Philip Cunio, who is blogging his mission. (Khan left early for a job interview with the European Space Agency.) From Cunio's blog:
Today I took a chemshower. That's what we call getting clean without using very much water, or very much of anything at all. It's a great way to get clean in space or on Mars, because there isn't very much water (that's because you have to carry all your water with you, and carrying lots of heavy water can be very expensive). So I essentially took a shower without taking a shower, the way many astronauts do.

How does it work? Well, first I took clean clothes downstairs. Then I mixed up my bath - a capful of very concentrated soap poured into about 20 oz. (that's the size of a soda bottle) of water. Then I took a washcloth and used it to give myself a spongebath, making sure to clean behind my ears. After that, I dried off with a towel, and used alcohol wipes on my feet and around the sensitive skin of my face. Then I took special waterless shampoo and washed out my hair. After that, I poured the bathwater down the sink (we have to use special biodegradable soap because all the water we use is recycled to the plants that we are growing in the GreenHab), dressed, and felt much cleaner.

Link to Cunio's Expedition Epsilon Outreach blog, Link to field reports, Link to Webcams



  1. “Khan left early for a job interview with the European Space Agency.”

    See if you can spot the subtle flaw in this simulation of the “psychological issues” of living in a small can, nine weightless months away from home. :)

  2. #3 Actually it was only a 1 hr trip on the Hollywood Freeway.

    But seriously: Utah seems like a vacation spot next to Antartica. That is where NASA is wasting lots of money testing habitats for use on the Moon and Mars:

    I do like the fact that the Mars Society is an NGO. Wouldn’t it be cool if they (with the help of some .com zillionare) got there first?

  3. “near Hanksville, Utah where researchers pretend they’re living on Mars.”

    Well, yes, you probably would like to pretend you were living on Mars if the harsh reality was that you were in Utah…

  4. What will they do when one (of many) coyotes come walking through the camp? Use a space shotgun to keep it out of the space-celler?

  5. There’s a guy opening a box from DELL on the 1st floor cam right now… *insert joke about delivery time here*

  6. mmm.. I cannot recollect precisely… there was a “biodome” or some such experiment once upon a time… they cheated if I remember….


  7. That shower sounds a little more complicated than it needs to be. An even more spartan method, which is used by the military in unimproved locations is called a “GI Shower”, which consists of several baby wipes. There is even a macho branded camouflaged packaged version called Hoo-ah’s….
    Interesting to see about how these guys do it though.

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