Jason DavisFeb 15, 2018

Simulating Mars in the Middle East

This month, 25 countries are participating in a simulated Mars mission in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. There, in the barren Dhofar Desert, temperatures can top 51 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit), making it a pretty inhospitable spot for humans—just like Mars. The mission, AMADEE-18 (PDF press kit), lasts four weeks, during which five astronauts will live in inflatable habitats and conduct experiments ranging from growing produce to operating robotic field rovers.

I know about planetary analog missions in general, but mostly just the NASA ones, such as HERA, NEEMO, and Desert RATS. AMADEE is a project of the Austrian Space Forum, a group that links up various corners of Austria's space industry. 

I heard about AMADEE from Sam McNeil, an Associated Press reporter who covers the Middle East and North Africa. Sam and I graduated together from the University of Arizona. He visited the AMADEE-18 crew earlier this month, and although I can't re-post his AP work, I can link to it! First, here's the written story and a very nice photo gallery:

Mars on Earth: Simulation tests in remote desert of Oman

Here's a cool 360-degree video of the base camp and rovers:

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And here's some B-roll:

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You can also follow the mission via the Austrian Space Forum on Twitter, or their social media manager, Olivia Hader. Here are a few tweets about the mission: