Press Release

Mars Institute team to complete Arctic sea-ice drive along fabled Northwest Passage to reach “Mars on Earth”

By SpaceRef Editor
May 6, 2010
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Mars Institute team to complete Arctic sea-ice drive along fabled Northwest Passage to reach “Mars on Earth”

An international team led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee will depart the Arctic community of Resolute Bay today aboard the Moon-1 Humvee Rover on a sea-ice crossing expedition. The team is headed for the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island, High Arctic, a remote outpost dedicated to space exploration on the world’s largest uninhabited island.

The Moon-1 is an experimental vehicle simulating future pressurized rovers that will one day allow humans to explore long distances on the Moon and Mars. Last year, the scientists completed a record-setting 494 km drive on sea-ice in the Moon-1 along the fabled Northwest Passage between Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Adverse weather and ice conditions, however, prevented Devon Island from being reached. The Moon-1 eventually hitched a ride on a US Air National Guard transport plane to Resolute Bay, where it is now in position to begin the final leg of its journey.

The team faces a challenging traverse across 200 kilometers of frigid, snow-covered barrens, including 35 kilometers across the rough ice-filled Wellington Channel. “If all goes well, we should be on Devon Island within a few days. But we are not taking it for granted. Nature has to cooperate”, cautioned Lee. Last year, the rover’s rear section fell through a lead (crack) in the ice, but was salvaged by the team using the Moon-1’s powerful front winch and unique traction capabilities.

The Northwest Passage Drive Expedition is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island where field research in space science and exploration is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Canadian Space Agency, the SETI Institute, and other research partners of the Mars Institute.

The present traverse will allow collection of valuable scientific and technical data that will help plan future long-range rover traverses on the Moon and Mars. Snow and sea-ice thickness measurements will also be made to monitor Climate Change and the long-term evolution of the Arctic environment.

Accompanying Lee are Northwest Passage Drive Expedition veterans Joe Amarualik, John W. Schutt, and Jesse Weaver, and the Jules Verne Adventures documentary team comprising filmmaker Jean-Christophe Jeauffre and director of photography Mark Carroll.

For more information, please visit or or contact:

Marc Boucher, CEO
Mars Institute

Dr. Pascal Lee
Mars Institute

During Northwest Passage Drive Expedition-2010, daily updates on the status of the expedition may be obtained from the above websites and/or by contacting:

Kira Lorber, NWPDX-2010 EPO Liaison
Mars Institute

Northwest Passage Drive Expedition – 2010 Background Information

The Mars Institute

The Mars Institute is an international, non-governmental, non-profit research organization dedicated to advancing the scientific study, exploration, and public understanding of Mars. The organization investigates similarities and differences between the Earth, Mars and other planetary bodies, and develops concepts, technologies, and strategies for the future exploration of Mars by robotic systems and humans. Research at the Mars Institute focuses not only on Mars, but also on the Moon, Deep Space, Near-Earth Objects, and Mars’s moons Phobos and Deimos, viewed as stepping stones towards the human exploration of Mars. The Mars Institute is committed to conducting high quality peer-reviewed research and sharing the knowledge and benefits of space exploration with students and the general public worldwide.

The Haughton-Mars Project

The Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) is an international multidisciplinary field research project centered on the scientific study of the Haughton meteorite impact crater and surrounding terrain on Devon Island, High Arctic, viewed as an “analog” for Mars and other planetary bodies. The HMP supports a Science program focused on comparative studies between the Earth, Mars and the Moon, and an Exploration program focused on developing new technologies and strategies for the human and robotic exploration of space. Research at HMP is supported by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, other government agencies in the US and Canada, and private partners. The HMP was initiated, and is directed by, Mars Institute planetary scientist Dr Pascal Lee. The Northwest Passage Drive Expedition is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project.

The Haughton-Mars Project Research Station

The Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS), located at 75o25.95′ N, 089o51.75′ W, is the Haughton-Mars Project’s base camp, and the final destination of the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition. The HMPRS is a state-of-the-art modular arctic research base with living, field research, working, logistical, and basic medical support facilities. The station offers high-bandwidth high-speed field communications and networking capabilities, including 24/7 internet access. Although currently operated only during the Summer, the HMPRS is capable of supporting year-round research operations. The HMPRS is currently the largest privately-operated polar research station in the world. The HMP RS is managed and operated by the Mars Institute in collaboration with the SETI Institute.

The Field Team

Dr. Pascal Lee, Expedition Leader, Humvee Commander

Dr. Pascal Lee, 45, is chairman of Mars Institute and a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute. He is based at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, where he is Director of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP). Dr. Lee has extensive experience living and conducting research in the Arctic and Antarctica. In 1988, he wintered over in Antarctica for 402 days. He has led all HMP field campaigns on Devon Island in the Arctic since the beginning of the project 14 years ago. He recently served as scientist pilot in the first field test of NASA’s new “Small Pressurized Rover”, a concept vehicle for future long-range human exploration on the Moon and Mars.

On the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition (NWPDX), Dr. Lee has overall responsibility for the expedition’s planning and implementation, and serves as commander of the Moon-1 Humvee Rover. He is also the Principal Investigator (PI) of the NWPDX’s research program.

John W. Schutt, Expedition Field Guide, Humvee Pilot

John Schutt, 61, is a geologist and world-renowned polar guide and mountaineer from Bellingham, Washington. A veteran of more than 44 field campaigns in the Arctic and Antarctica, he is the Chief Field Guide of the US NSF/NASA Antarctic Search for Meteorites program and also the Chief Field Guide and Base Camp Manager for the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island, High Arctic.
On the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition, Mr. Schutt is in charge of field gear preparation, navigation, and field resource management, and serves as pilot of the Moon-1 Humvee Rover.

Joe Amarualik, Expedition Scout, Snowmobile Pilot

Joe Amarualik, 43, is a highly experienced field guide and Arctic land and sea-ice expert from Resolute Bay, Nunavut. He is a Canadian Ranger and successfully guided the Mars Institute’s previous Mars-1 Humvee Rover over 35 km of sea-ice from Cornwallis Island to Devon Island in May 2003.

On the NWPDX, Mr. Amarualik is responsible for assessing sea-ice conditions, route finding, and wildlife encounter management. He pilots the lead snowmobile ahead of all other vehicles of the expedition.

Jesse Weaver, Expedition Technician, Snowmobile Pilot

Jesse Weaver, 19, is an ace ATV and Humvee mechanic from Seymour, Tennessee. He is Field Technician and Lead Field Assistant on the Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island. The Northwest Passage Drive Expedition – 2010 is his fifth Arctic campaign.

On the NWPDX, Mr. Weaver is responsible for preparing, maintaining and repairing all vehicles. He pilots the trailing snowmobile, carrying most of the emergency supplies or the expedition and closing the column of vehicles.

Jean-Christophe Jeauffre, Expedition Documentary Director

Jean-Christophe Jeauffre is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer based in Los Angeles, CA, and Paris, France. He is co-founder of Jules Verne Adventures (, a non-profit organization dedicated to exploration, filmmaking, and education, and is co-director of the annual Jules Verne Festival, the largest film festival event in Paris. He is a member of the prestigious French Explorers Club.
On the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition, M. Jeauffre is director of a new documentary being produced by Jules Verne Adventures in collaboration with the Mars Institute.

Mark Carroll, Expedition Documentary Cameraman

Mark Carroll is a conservation photographer and documentary filmmaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. He founded Outerside ( on the simple notion that creating remarkable images has the power to inspire and effect change.

On the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition, Mr. Carroll is director of photography for the documentary directed by Jean-Christophe Jeauffre and produced by Jules Verne Adventures in collaboration with the Mars Institute. He will also help with field logistics and the expedition’s Education and Public Outreach activities.

The Science Team

In addition to Dr. Pascal Lee, the Science Team behind the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition includes:
Dr. Christian Haas of the University of Alberta, Principal Investigator of the Sea-Ice Thickness Measurement Experiment,
Dr. Andrew Schuerger of the University of Florida, Principal Investigator of the Astrobiology and Planetary Protection Experiment,
Dr. Marcelo Vasquez of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Principal Investigator of the Space Radiation Experiment,
Dr. Peter Thomas of Cornell University, Co-Investigator in the Planetary Geology Analogues Experiment,
Dr. Andrew Abercromby and Dr. Michael Gernhardt of NASA Johnson Space Center, Co-Investigators in the Human Exploration Studies Experiment,
Dr. Chris McKay and Dr. Terry Fong of NASA Ames Research Center, Co-Investigators in the Human Exploration Studies Experiment, and
Dr Stephen Braham of the Mars Institute and Simon Fraser University, Co-Investigator in the Human Exploration Studies Experiment.

The Support Team

Field operations during the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition are supported remotely from Mars Institute (MI) headquarters at Moffett Field, CA, and from MI’s office in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Key Support Team members include:
Dr. Stephen Braham, Associate Director and Chief Field Engineer of the Haughton-Mars Project, who serves as “Flight Director” in the mission’s daily operations.
Marc Boucher, CEO of Mars Institute and Expedition Management Software developer; Kira Lorber, HMP Logistics Manager and Northwest Passage Drive Expedition Education and Public Outreach Liaison.

For more information, please visit or or contact:

Dr. Pascal Lee
Mars Institute

Kira Lorber
Mars Institute

SpaceRef staff editor.