Mars Analogue Geological Site Survey

Project Manager: 

This database is a catalogue of 18 places in Australia we have identified as analogous in one or more ways to the surface of Mars. It is hoped it will be a useful tool for researchers.

Introduction
Database Purpose
Future Development

Introduction

Australia is one of the best places on Earth to undertake Mars analogue research activities. There is a need to catalogue sites of interest in Australia (which includes the Australian Antarctic Territory) to help identify locations for field excursions and for a possible future fixed research station. Some advantages include:

  1. Different types of natural features closely resembling similiar features observed on Mars.
  2. Weather conditions are typically favourable (i.e. low rainfall) for simulation activities for longer during the year than many other analogue sites,
  3. Crews can roam over a relatively large unrestricted field of operations,
  4. Support crews have relatively ready access to modern infrastructure,
  5. The selected field of operations could be found to resemble and contain many features of the Martian terrain.

Australia is a developed nation with good infrastructure (e.g. roads) and the continent has been mapped extensively for mineral exploration purposes. Analogue work can make an important contribution not only to Mars mission planning and research, but to terrestrial science in the form of paleo, geologic and contemporary flora and fauna field studies.

Database Purpose

This database is a catalogue of some Australian localities identified as analogous in one or more ways to the surface of Mars. It is intended to become a tool for Mars researchers and mission planners interested in making use of Mars analogue features in Australia.

The database's functions include:

  1. provide a list of localities of interest for Mars analogue activities,
  2. provide comprehensive information for these localities, to help Mars researchers assess the value of these to their activities and facilitate their use for analogue research,
  3. demonstrate pro-active leadership by MSA and strengthen its scientific credentials with a view to establishing closer links with organisations planning Mars missions,
  4. provide a basis for locality selection for MSA field operations

It is envisaged the precise scope of the database will evolve through discussions with students and professionals in the field, both local and international.

Future Development

This database will provide international and local Mars researchers with a "one stop shop", initially providing ready access to information allowing selection of analogue sites in central Australia.

The database should always be considered a "work in progress". We hope it will evolve over time, providing a better medium for entering, editing, managing and accessing a larger number of entries, more detailed data and additional high resolution images.

It may be necessary to seek donated or low cost map and aerial photo images, and if possible GIS images. Access to GIS software and data is highly desirable. There may also be software development to help manage the information. MSA is an Australian not-for-profit incorporated association organisation affiliated with the private not-for-profit US organisation The Mars Society. MSA welcomes donations or funding support to help cover costs of its continuing development. For more information, contact the society President.