- Press Release
- Sep 29, 2022
Keith Cowing’s Devon Island Journal: Summer 2002
In the summer of 2002 I had a unique opportunity: I had the chance to visit another planet – or at least the closest thing to such an experience one can have without leaving this planet.
I was a participant in the NASA Haughton-Mars Project – a international multidisciplinary research project led by Pascal Lee, managed in cooperation with NASA by the SETI Institute. My company is also a financial sponsor of this project. In addition, I was a journalist documenting the various research projects underway here.
While I wore many different hats as I set foot on this amazing island, they all soon merged into one: I was a witness to a close approximation of what it would be like to explore another planet: specifically, Mars. As such, the only way to convey my experiences is to do so from a personal perspective.
To set things in context:
The location: Haughton Crater, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada – less than a thousand miles from the north pole on the largest uninhabited island on Earth.
Project task: perform a scientific study of the Haughton impact crater and the surrounding terrain in order to learn about Mars and Earth by comparison – and constrast. Also, to utilize the unique Mars-like terrain of Devon Island as a Martian analog so as to learn how to live, work, and conduct science on Mars.
My tasks: assemble a greenhouse that will allow space biology research to be done on Devon Island – and communicate to a wider audience what it is like to live and work on Devon Island.
During my time on Devon Island I took copious notes and over 2,500 photos so as to capture my experiences. Only after I returned home, as I sat back to review and edit the photos and notes I had scribbled, did I truly understand all that had happened.
So many things went on every day. While I was building a greenhouse at Base Camp, astrobiology, geology, human factors, information systems, and space medicine research was also going on – some of it in nearby tents — in other cases, many kilometers away in the field. I have tried to capture as much as I can, given my attempts to see – and do it all.
Herein I present my journals – journals from a place we call “Mars on Earth”.
- 8 Jul 2002: Arrival
- 9 Jul 2002: Getting acquainted – and down to work
- 10 Jul 2002: Mars carpentry
- 11 Jul 2002: Lexan Kites, shotguns, and Driver’s Ed
- 12 Jul 2002: Building and exploring
- 13-15 Jul 2002: Building a Mars greenhouse on Earth
- 16 Jul 2002: Sealing Greenhouses on Earth – and Mars; 6 Wheeled Rovers
- 17 Jul 2002: Greenhouse Dedication, Fishing, and Mystery Food
- 18 Jul 2002: Giving Blood, Eternal Light, and an Evening Commute
- 19 Jul 2002: The Hottest Place on Devon Island, T-shirts, a Star Trek hello
- 20 Jul 2002: Mars Airplanes and Communicating With Earth
- 21 Jul 2002: Visiting ministers, missing ‘green’, and crater tours
- 22 Jul 2002: The hottest place on Devon Island
- 23 Jul 2002: Farewells, Birthdays, and Bartering
- 24 Jul 2002: EVAs, movies – and ‘being here’
- 25 Jul 2002: Russian TV, webcam privacy, and being on Mars for a few minutes
- 26 Jul 2002: Cold Feet, Chocolate, and Home Cooking
- 27 Jul 2002: Anchors and anemometers
- 28 Jul 2002: Drilling into permafrost; leaving footprints for eternity
- 29 Jul 2002: Showering near the North Pole; one last look around
- 30 Jul 2002: Departure and arrival
- 31 Jul 2002: Culture shock and flight delays
- 1 Aug 2002: Departure into darkness
- 2 Aug 2002: Green overdose; home at last
- 2 Sep 2002: Home +30