#SimulateMars – Austrian Space Forum

From 7th to 16th February 2013, I volunteered as part of the Remote Science Support team for the Austrian Space Forum’s Mars simulation mission, being carried out in Morocco for the entire month of February. My experiment MEDIAN was being operated by the field team of 10 people, and I was involved with the in-house mapping and geological projects, as well as helping to co-ordinate data from the field being sent out to remote experiment teams. Around 18 experiments were conducted and over 100 people from 23 different countries were involved in the mission.

MEDIAN in Morocco (c)
OeWF (Katja Zanella-Kux)

Thanks to Natalie Jones, a fellow RSS team member, on the first day of the official mission we enjoyed a phone call from Commander Chris Hadfield, live from the International Space Station, which was also patched through to the field as a total surprise.

The Austrian Space Forum published a profile interview with me and after the first fortnight, an update about MEDIAN was featured in the first mission science bulletin.

The second mission science bulletin contained information about our detailed photogeologic mapping project, masterminded by Anna Losiak.  I was part of the Remote Science Support team who worked on this in detail, which involved layering optimised maps for the different experiments in order for flight planning to make daily mission plans, and then plotting what was actually carried out by the field in order to compare the planned and actual results, and the reasons for differences.

It was an amazing experience to be involved in a full mission simulation and the level of detail and professionalism achieved was outstanding.