Preparing for a Mars mission

January 12, 2011

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Murdoch University’s Senior Lecturer Dr Graham Mann is busy pursuing his childhood passion and preparing for a trip to Mars, in the Pilbara, in Western Australia.

Dr Mann is the director of the Mars Society of Australia and in July this year he will be involved in a joint exercise with NASA called Spaceward Bound.

The project will see scientists, schoolteachers and students wear space suits and take part in a series of scientific exercises, training and discussions.

“We want the teachers to go back to their schools full of enthusiasm and in effect inspire the next generation of students who would be interested in space travel,” Dr Mann said.

Dr Mann is also involved in building robots and has designed a prototype vehicle for human beings to travel of Mars.  Dubbed Project Marsupial the vehicle looks like a campervan and is currently under construction in a warehouse in Maddington, Perth.

“It’s essentially a land-going spacecraft,” Dr Mann said.

“We will put it into a simulated outdoor scenario where we’re testing it to see how it would support a Mars mission.”

Once complete, the vehicle will be tested in desert environments in Western Australia that are very much like Mars.  Those testing the vehicle will put themselves under the same kind of restraints as astronauts, including wearing spacesuits.

Read more about Dr Mann’s research in Murdoch’s alumni magazine, InTouch or on Perth Now.

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