The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is a Mars-analog habitat located in the Utah Desert, supporting Earth-based research in pursuit of the technology, operations, and science required for human space exploration. It is owned and operated by the Mars Society.
MDRS is one of about a dozen public and private Mars-analog stations in operation and is currently the largest and longest-running Mars surface simulation facility on Earth. Composed of six international citizen astronauts, MDRS Crew 238 is embarking in this simulated environment at the peak of the Rocky Mountains winter season, when desert temperatures at an altitude of 1,309 m (4,295 ft) range between -15 C (5 F) and 5 C (41 F). Although much warmer than Mars, the desert’s location, terrain, and geomorphology are similar to the conditions on the Red Planet. Upon arrival, Crew 238 will be quite literally “living on Mars”, conducting a diverse range of research projects in full-immersion mode.
Preparing since 2020 and originally scheduled for January 2021, Crew 238’s rotation has been delayed by travel and public health restrictions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Crew 238 is a group of individuals of diverse backgrounds, ages, and nationalities, drawn together by a common interest in the potential and promise of space and Mars research.
While the crew varies in expertise, interests, goals, and opinions, it has been working collaboratively in preparation for its rotation, and in order to further our collective understanding of the issues and challenges related to human settlement of Mars.
Crew 238’s mission insignia represents Mars imagery and its core research topics.
The labyrinth symbolizes meandering but purposeful journeying.
The COVID-19 virus stands for the ongoing pandemic, and its impact on mission planning and on humanity; its arms transform it into a satellite, hinting at public narrative goals.
The lavender is a metaphor for wellness and healing, and the mental health focus of 238.
The stars in the background represent the diversity of our backgrounds and aspirations.
Red and violet color respectively represent human willpower and interplanetary wisdom.
The station crew is made out of three women and three men whose ages range from 37 to 74, from Cabo Verde, Canada, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom and the US. Crew 238 roles are distributed as follows: Sionade Robinson (Mission Commander), P.J. Marcellino (Executive Officer & Crew Journalist), Aga Pokrywka (Artist in Residence), Kay Sandor (GreenHab Officer), Robert T Turner (Health and Safety Officer) and Simon Werner (Crew Engineer). Among our Off-site Collaborators are: Jason Michaud (Extended Reality Technology Officer) and Bhargav Patel (Communications & Systems Engineer). Vera Novais (Observador.pt) has been designated as an Embedded Media Correspondent for Crew 238’s rotation, independently reporting on the mission daily, based on pre-scheduled latency-cognizant/in-sim contacts with the crew. Crew 238 is further supported by Mars Society’s onsite ground-control, and by a mission-specific External Projects Team, including Rob Brougham and Andrew Smithsimmons, Directors and Co–Founders at Braided Communications; Jawad El Houssine, Chief Technology Officer at Stardust Technologies; and Dr. Julia Yates, a psychological assessment and academic supervisor.
Crew 238’s rotation conducts individual and mission-wide research projects, complementary to each other and collaborative in nature. Core research themes span over emergency and disaster response strategies; microbiology; leadership and exploration mindsets; astronauts’ mental and holistic health protocols; remote communications delay; and art, storytelling, and public narratives of Mars exploration. We invite you to peruse our individual and collective research plans, and to follow the mission’s progress under Mission Log or on social media.