Status Report

Keith Cowing’s Devon Island Journal: Summer 2002

By SpaceRef Editor
September 15, 2002
Filed under , ,

Further Information

  • NASA Haughton-Mars Project

  • SpaceRef

  • SpaceRef Mars on Earth coverage

  • Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse


  • 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”.

    SpaceRef staff editor.