15 november 2012

Canadian takes part in analogue Mars experiment


courtesy S Engler
Simon Engler stands beside "Zoe" a Mars rover prototype he's working on at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.

A Canadian graduate researcher at the University of Calgary has been chosen over 700 other candidates to take part in a highly specialized space research project in Hawaii
The 120 day project is called an “analogue Mars mission”. It involves living in a small habitat and eating a variety of foods, instant and other, that might be included in a Mars mission.

Simon Engler, a robotics graduate noted that most who applied didn’t realize what they were getting into, ie , close quarters, isolation “bad food” and a two-minute shower once a week.

After a degree in astrophysics and mathematics from the University of Amsterdam, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces serving for 5 years with 1 Combat Engineer Regiment where he designed a robot to detect Taliban improvised bomgs during his 10 month tour in Afghanistan. He notes that his military experience probably showed he could cope with the project’s conditions.

He adds that if asked to volunteer for an actual manned mission to Mars, he would go “absolutely”.


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