Mars-simulation mission draws Ottawa woman to Utah

One Ottawa woman is getting a high-tech, realistic version of the Martian experience at a special building in Utah.

Elizabeth Howell spending two weeks in desert with 8-person crew

A crew member from a previous mission poses in the Utah desert while taking part in a Mars Desert Research Station expedition. Ottawa's Elizabeth Howell is spending two weeks at the facility. (MDRS/Flickr)

Much was made last week about how parts of Canada were colder than on Mars.

One Ottawa woman is also getting a slightly higher-tech version of the Martian experience at a special building in Utah.

Elizabeth Howell is living at the Mars Desert Research Station for two weeks with seven other people, part of a project to see if humans could one day live on the Red Planet.

“A Mars mission is a large and expensive endeavor,” she said over the phone while en route Saturday.

“The best way we can try and cut down on the cost is to do as many of the things as possible on Earth, to see if it will work out in space before we actually get there.”

Space suit studies included

The group, officially known as Crew 133, will be living and working in a two-storey, eight-metre wide cylinder.

The Utah desert environment was chosen because it’s close to the conditions on Mars.

Members of a previous Mars desert research Station mission work in the Utah desert. (MDRS/Flickr)

Howell said the crew will be driving vehicles, growing their own food and donning space suits while trying to use tools in order to gain experience useful for future Mars missions.

“There's just a whole ream of engineering studies, space suit studies, greenhouse studies,” she said.

“I'm really excited.”

Howell, a freelance journalist who is studying aerospace science, said she’ll be tweeting throughout their mission.

There are three more Mars Desert Research Station locations in the Canadian Arctic, Iceland and the Australian outback.

Mobile users click here to see where in Utah the project is happening.