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A team of six Romanian researchers is taking part for the first time in a Martian Mission. They will not reach the Red Planet but a simulated habitat in Colorado. Simulation or not, the mission is not a game and the team will publish daily updates and status of their activity. Amongst them, Haritina Mogosanu is the Education Coordinator of the Space Foundation New Zealand as well as the Publicity Officer for the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand.

Romania is a country of space pioneers, from Conrad Haas - the inventor of the stage rocket to Herman Oberth - the father of the space era, to Traian Vuia - pioneer of the modern aviation and Henri Coanda - the inventor of the jet engine. Three decades ago, the romanians were sending Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu into space. Despite all these extraordinary facts, space exploration is still a mystery for many Romanians.

Romars Mission wishes to change this. Sending a 100 % Romanian crew at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is as close as we can currently get to send a Romanian crew on Mars. NASA did it, ESA (European Space Agency) did it - sending their astronauts and scientists to train on analogue environments - and so does the Romanian Space Agency - ROSA.

Romars crew is bringing a pleiades of skills to the mission. We are united in our wish to contribute to the exploration of Mars and the popularisation of space sciences. Other than outreach, the mission researches the feasibility of working and living in alien environments and we simulate this here at the Mars Analog Station in Utah, USA.

What is the Mars Desert Research Station

Located inside the Colorado Plateau MDRS is a simulated Martian habitat belonging to the Mars Society. www.marssociety.org.

The station is located in San Rafael Swell, Utah, USA.

The crews are on a two weeks rotation and behave like they are on the Red Planet. From the moment they arrive at MDRS the crews must wear astronauts space suits, (yes with space helmets) every time they undertake activities outside the habitat. Activities can stretch from collecting geological samples to simply warming up the "Martian" rovers (one of the crew's engineer's morning tasks) so that they can assess the feasibility and efficiency of work in this type of suits.

The habitat itself is a two story cylinder of approximately ten meters in diameter, hosting on one floor the crew's bunks and on the other floor the laboratories and the living area. Next to the "hab" is the "Green Hab", the hydroponics bay and the Musk Observatory, workplaces of the crew's horticultural engineer and astronomer.

Following in the Footsteps of NASA astronauts

Before us, at MDRS have trained for the next missions astronauts, researchers from NASA, NASA Academy and ESA (European Space Agency) as well as members of the Mars Society. We are crew 98 (link).

The desert around MRDS is very similar to the surface of Mars and the flora and fauna present here could be very similar to the possible microscopic life forms from Mars or to the life-forms we perhaps will use in the process of terraforming.

The research done at the MDRS should prove useful for the future exploration of Mars. This type of simulations have been made by NASA before the Apollo missions on the Moon.

Romars Crew was assembled so that we all have multiple competencies not only amongst ourselves but also individually, so that we are able to fulfill many roles. This type of behaviour - multitasking - is one of the selection criterion for astronauts. It is very expensive to send a person in space so you might as well send someone who is a Jack of All Trades and a Master of living in confined environments.

Our research

We are undertaking biological and geological research, sampling, geochemical and microbiological analysis. The mission has an astronomical research side as well due to the clear atmosphere in the desert (like on Mars) but also an agricultural side with the Green hab facility. The biosecurity of the mission is very important, to avoid the contamination of the martian environment with terrestrial organisms but also the other way around.

Mars Society is an international non-profit organisation created to engage the people with the exploration of space, to present to these the benefits of colonising Mars. Other than the Romanian Space Agency, the Romars Mission is supported by Astra Insurance, Nikon, Omnidata SA, the BIoclinica Laboratories, University of Bucharest but also by MAF Biosecurity New Zealand.

Who are the members of the crew

  • The first Romanian crew on Mars is lead by Virgiliu Pop, principal researcher in law and space politics at the Romanian Space Agency.
  • Haritina Mogosanu is the crew's horticultural engineer, astronomer and the biosecurity officer, she works for MAF Biosecurity New Zealand
  • Beatrice Gilea is the biologist of the mission, she is researcher at the PhD student at Bucharest University, Biology Section
  • Florin Mingireanu is the crew's engineer and works for the Romanian Space Agency. He is specialising in propulsion and satelites attitude control.
  • Iulia Jivanescu is the mission's geologist and works for the Romanian Space Agency in the GIS applications stream.
  • Dragos Bratasanu is the press officer and researcher at ROSA where he processes satellite images.

The mission will start in a few hours, keep close for daily updates.

You can also watch "The Martian Chronicles" on Carter Observatory's Facebook Page

Or follow me on Twitter @wojithe3rd

Clear skies,
Haritina

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