The Haughton Crater on Devon Island in Canada’s high Arctic is home to the only known impact crater in a polar desert. This makes it an ideal analog for a Mars on Earth research station.
The Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) is managed by the Mars Institute and SETI Institute and who work in collaboration with NASA and other partners to conduct exploration and science research each summer.
Today the Mars Institute and SETI Institute announced a new ongoing collaboration with Google. The new collaboration includes a guided tour of Mars on Earth in Google Earth along with new Google Street Views in Google Maps, and a new short documentary.
“We were very humbled by the opportunity to get a glimpse into the work planetary scientists are doing on Devon Island. Now we are thrilled to share the results of our time on the world’s largest uninhabited island with Google users,” says Katja Minitsenka, who is leading this effort within Google.
“We are excited about this new partnership with Google on the Haughton-Mars Project and about the data products being released. They allow us to share with the world some of the Mars-like wonders of the site and the fieldwork that we do” says Dr Pascal Lee, planetary scientist with the Mars Institute and the SETI Institute, and director of the NASA HMP at NASA Ames Research Center.
The Google Street View highlights include:
- Astronaut Canyon
- Haughton Crater at View Hill
- Haughton-Mars Project Base Camp
- Von Braun Planitia: An Ancient Lake Bed
- Haughton Crater at Breccia Cliffs
The 10 minute documentary titled Mars on Earth: A Visit to Devon Island (below) “takes viewers to the breathtaking ‘magnificent desolation’ of Devon Island, and invites them to share in daily life at the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS), the project’s base camp. The HMPRS is currently the largest privately operated polar research station in the world, and the leading field research facility dedicated to the advancement of planetary science and exploration.” The video was shot in HD using a Google Pixel 3 smartphone.
“The video also captures some of the research being conducted at HMP during the 2018 field season, including flight tests and science application studies of NASA’s Mars Electric Reusable Flyer or MERF, an experimental aircraft for Mars exploration currently under development at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA.”
Having spent several months over three field seasons on Devon Island at Haughton Crater I can attest to its compelling locale as an analog to Mars and yes, even the moon. The documentary provides a very small glimpse, though informative, into the research that’s been ongoing for over 20 years. It also provides the viewer a sense of what it might be like to explore Mars.
Google participated in the HMP’s 2018 summer field campaign and the collaboration is ongoing.