Mars Habitats Simulated

We’re going to Mars. If NASA is not going I’m sure Elon Musk will land on planet four. But even if we have lived two hundred thousand years on Earth we still have a lot to learn before we can move to another planet. Mars is cold, has no air and no radiation shield. The lower gravity will probably also be a problem. Whatever we can simulate here on Earth before we go we need to do. Here are some of the projects doing just that:


The University of Hawai’i is operating the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation habitat. The site on the side of Mauna Loa offers a cool and dry climate with a Mars like geology. This project is sponsored by University of Hawai’i, NASA and Cornell University. Four missions has been completed ranging from four month to a year. Next mission starts January 19.

University of Hawai’i: Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation

NASA Analog Missions: HI-SEAS

HI-SEAS @ Facebook | HI-SEAS @ Twitter | Wikipedia


Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS)

MDRS is operated by the Mars Society and located in the Utah desert. The habitat has a greenhouse and an observatory. Crews have been rotated the habitat since the early 2000s.

Mars Society: Mars Desert Research Station

MDRS @ Facebook | MDRS @ Twitter | Wikipedia


Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS)

The Mars Society’s first habitat, located on Devon Island. The area near the Haughton impact crater is considered one of the best Mars analog sites on Earth.

Mars Society: Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station

FMARS @ Facebook | Wikipedia


Haughton-Mars Project (HMP)

Also on Devon Island, not far from FMARS is the Haughton-Mars Project. HMP is operated by the Mars Institute with help from the SETI Institute and NASA.

Project web site: Haughton-Mars Project

Mars Institute | Facebook | Flickr | Twitter | Wikipedia



The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations is a NASA project at the underwater laboratory Aquarius.


NEEMO @ Facebook | Twitter | Wikipedia


Living on white Mars

The distant research station Concordia at the Antarctic has been used to test isolation and cold. The project was documented on a blog at ESA.

ESA: Living on white Mars (PDF)

Wikipedia: Concordia Station


Don’t forget earlier projects like MARS-500 and Biosphere 2.

Wikipedia: MARS-500 | Biosphere 2 | Human analog missions | Mars analog habitatsMars analogs



Upcoming Mars analogs: PMAS in Poland and the Mars Habitat in Brazil

NASA blogs: Analog missions

New Scientist: Four extreme environments where humans are tasting life on Mars

National Geographics: 8 amazing places you can visit “Mars” on Earth

Is the Russian PERIMETR system still active?

The Stanley Kubric’s movie ”Dr. Strangelove” from 1964 is about an automatic Russian Doomsday Machine. This machine would guarantee nuclear retaliation in the case the Soviet Union were hit by an U.S. surprise attack. The movie is purely fiction but reality caught up with the movie in 1985 when the Russian PERIMETR system went online. The system goes by different names like Dead Hand and Mertvaya Ruka. The information we got is contradictory, the details vary and some is speculation. We simply don’t know the facts. This is a summary of the available information:

Perimetr is not fully automatic. The system needs to be activated. It will then use its sensors to detect nuclear detonations and listen for Russian military radio. If contact over radio is not possible the system reports to a small spherical bunker deep under the Ural mountains. In this command center there are three officers waiting for Perimetr to indicate that the conditions for a counter attack is met. It’s then up to the officers to push the button. The Perimetr is then fully automatic. Command missiles will launch and also try to detect military radio. If not detected it will send launch codes to missiles on the ground.

The system was unknown until 1993 when Valery Yarynich and Bruce Blair started writing about it. The Russians are rarely talking about this system but as late as 2011 the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces confirmed that the system is still operational.


Jalopnik: The Soviets made a real Doomsday device in the 80’s

Arms Control Wonk: Putin’s Dead Hand (great links and a good podcast)

Bruce Blair: Russia’s Doomsday Machine (first known article from 1993)

The Washington Post: Valery Yarnich, the man who told of the Soviet’s doomsday machine

Wired: Inside the apocalyptic Soviet doomsday machine

Perimetr site (site in Russian) (translated here)

Number Stations: The myth of the Dead Hand

Tales from the nuclear age: Perimetr

Wikipedia: Dead Hand | Bruce G BlairDavid E HoffmanLeo Szilard | Dr. Strangelove

Help NASA to build a better robot

NASA wants your help. Develop software for a virtual Robonaut 5 (R5) Valkyrie to solve problems on Mars. You can win a million dollars.

NASA: Spacebot


PC Mag: Build a space robot for NASA

Two universities are already working on Valkyrie:

Northeastern University: NASA Space Robotics Challenge

NASA does a lot of research, not just in robotics, and now it will be made public. Their research is now available at PubSpace.

The simulated Universe

Supercomputers are used to simulate the universe from Big Bang to present day. The Illustris Project is the biggest virtual universe yet. It took years to program it and the system was completed in 2014. Data from the project was released in 2015. Data from the simulation is now compared to real life observations.

Link: The Illustris Project web site

Gizmag: Illustris omputer simulation creates the first realistic virtual universe

Presentation of the project at ArXiv

Presentation of the project data at ArXiv

Top 500 of supercomputers (nr 27 was used by Illustris)

More simulations: NASA Pleiades Supercomputer | About Pleiades

Cosmos Magazines: A ringside seat at the birth of stars

Wikipedia: Illustris project | Pleiades