Darlene Lim, department of geology

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U of T public affairs

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By Janet Wong

If humans were to inhabit Mars, how would we do it? What would we need to know? How would we breathe,
eat, sleep, communicate, interact and live?

U of T geology graduate student Darlene Lim is among a team of scientists on the Haughton Mars Project
asking, and answering, those very questions. This project, led by the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, will be conducted on Haughton Crater on Devon Island in the Canadian high Arctic. According
to Lim, the similarity of this crater to Mars is quite remarkable. Its geography, topography and potential
microbiology may be comparable to those of the Red Planet since there is evidence that Mars once had
crater lakes similar to the ancient lake that once occupied Haughton Crater.

“By and large, the Haughton Mars Project explores how we would explore Mars,” Lim says. “We have to
know what to look for to see if there ever was life on Mars. And we also have to be conscious so that our
activities do not destroy what we intend to study.”

A two-level habitat is being built and tested in Colorado by the Mars Society (a private group committed to
the exploration and settlement of Mars). This simulated Mars space station — which sleeps up to six people
— will have its inaugural opening July 20 on Haughton Crater and two groups will reside there for one week
each this summer. As the project progresses through the years, the plan is to have people staying in the
habitat for longer periods of time, says Lim, who is also a Mars Society member.

“The science and research gathered will be extremely useful — from earth sciences research to robotics
testing on rough terrain, from space communication to the social aspects of living in extreme conditions,”
she notes. “This project is a feasibility study and will give us a lot of information on what we need to know
before we can send human explorers to Mars.”

[Janet Wong is a news services officer with the Department of Public Affairs.]