Status Report

Keith Cowing’s Devon Island Journal – 3 Jul 2003: Waiting in Resolute

By SpaceRef Editor
July 3, 2003
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NASA HMP-2003/SpaceRef

Terminal at Iqaluit Airport. It looks like it landed here under its own propulsion.

The Co-op where I stayed while in Resolute Bay

Polar bear hide hanging out in the sun across the street

Further Information

  • NASA Haughton-Mars Project

  • Mars Institute

  • SpaceRef Mars on Earth coverage

  • Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse



  • Keith Cowing’s Devon Island Journal: Summer 2002

  • SpaceRef

  • I arrived in Resolute Bay yesterday (Wednesday) after an uneventful (but long) flight from Ottawa. We made one stop along the way, at Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. The terminal at Iqaluit airport is rather unique. It looks like a prop from a well-funded SciFi movie. Indeed, it looks as if I landed here under its own power as part of a Mars base.

    As we flew into Iqaluit, I had a nice view of the terrain as it swept beneath us. The ground was half-covered with lingering snow and ice. In many places small ponds had formed above the ice. With clear snow melt (water) several feet deep; these pools took on an almost Caribbean turquoise blue tint. Other ponds were composed of sheets of ice with melting at the edges. The melt areas overlaid ice underneath at the rims creating a series of turquoise-ringed circles of white. As I flew over this sight, something familiar was at the back of my mind. After a few minutes I realized what it was: I was reminded of flying into airports in the American southwest and passing over all of the turquoise-colored swimming pools in people’s back yards.

    After a short stay in Iqaluit we took off again to head for Resolute. The terrain was ever changing and utterly alien to someone like me who lives in a temperate zone – i.e. a region where plants cover the ground. Here you see nothing but raw mineralogy and hydrology. Shapes and colors that come from the interaction of various minerals and the harsh arctic climate. At one point we passed over a region, which, if tinted the right shade of pinkish-orange, would have looked like Mars. A vast expanse of ice covered circular ponds set amidst a terrain of snow-covered flat ground. It looked for all the world like icy craters on Mars.

    I am predisposed to be thinking about Mars right now. Not only am I on my way to a research project that focuses on, among other things, Martian analogs on Earth. I am also reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars”, the first book in a trilogy that describes the human exploration, colonization, and eventual transformation of Mars.

    Later in the day, several of us drove around town and out to Resolute airport to round up nine 200 pound propane tanks which we’ll be airlifting to Devon Island in over the next few days. These tanks will be used to power a heating system that will be installed in the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse. As we drove around Resolute, I was reminded of many scenes in Robinson’s book wherein folks battled harsh and dirty conditions to create a viable community.

    The weather, as always, has been a deciding factor in determining when we “put in” or send people and supplies into Devon Island. Bad conditions on the surface of our landing strip on Devon Island have led to a several day delay. Things are improving steadily and we hope to start sending everyone in soon. I am on one of the earliest flights. As such, this will probably be my last journal entry for several days. Once you get the alert, it’s a rush out to the airport and off you go. It will take us several days to get our satellite systems operational. In the mean time there is a base camp to be brought back to life. We’ll all be rather busy.

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    SpaceRef staff editor.