Elf Eldridge on Sciblogs:
Why have I picked Kiwimars as a shining example of NZ’s science future? Simply because the Kiwimars crew are not paid scientists. They are not professional researchers, nor do they have a lifetime’s worth of experience or training for this mission. They are members of the public with a passion for space and a desire for NZ to play a part in overcoming one of mankind’s next gigantic leaps forward – the human exploration of another planet. And are doing it.
They didn’t wait for government funding, public interest, or approval from NZ science’s governing bodies – they have raised funds (in large part from off-shore), organised the mission, co-ordinated outreach activites and integrated it into the NZ school science curriculum as a resource for teachers because they believed it needed to be done.
Kiwis share their Mars experience: After 14 days wearing spacesuits in a simulated mission, the first Kiwis sent to live on "Mars" have spoken of their experiences in an alien environment. The six-person crew of three men and three women entered a simulated spacecraft at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah on April 21, as the KiwiMars team. During the two-week expedition they lived in a cramped 10m-wide, two-storey "environment" that included a greenhouse and an observatory, to replicate what a mission to Mars could be like. Living in close quarters in an unfamiliar environment was challenging, admitted mission commander Haritina Mogosanu, who assembled the crew in six months.