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Mars on Earth

Haughton-Mars Project (HMP)

The Haughton-Mars Project is an international multidisciplinary field research project dedicated to advancing planetary science and exploration. The HMP is centered on the scientific study of the Haughton meteorite impact crater and surrounding terrain on Devon Island, High Arctic, viewed as a planetary analog, in particular for the Moon and Mars.


Devon Island and Haughton Crater

Devon Island is located in the territory of Nunavut, Canada. It is the largest uninhabited island on Earth. The environment on Devon Island is best described as “polar desert” (not “tundra”), meaning that it is both very cold and dry. Devon Island presents the single largest continuous area of barren rocky polar desert on Earth.

Devon Island is home to Haughton Crater, a 20 km diameter meteorite impact crater that formed about 23 million years ago, during the Miocene.


Research at HMP

Research at HMP is divided into two programs: Science and Exploration.

The HMP Science program seeks to learn about the site’s geology and biology, in order to gain insights into the nature and evolution of the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies via (careful) comparisons. In the process, the HMP Science program also contributes new knowledge about Devon Island, the Arctic, and the evolution of our Home Planet through time.

The HMP Exploration program seeks to use the site to develop, test, and validate new exploration technologies and strategies for planning the future human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars. Exploration systems studied include habitats, spacesuits, ground vehicles, aircraft - drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) -, robotic rovers, drills, instruments, tools, life support systems, plant growth systems, and communications and other information systems. Human factors and crew management studies are also carried out.


Participants in HMP

The HMP was established in 1997 and is directed by Pascal Lee, planetary scientist with the Mars Institute and the SETI Institute. The HMP is headquartered at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, USA. Research at HMP is supported by NASA. Additional research, education, and/or outreach partnerships exist between the HMP and academia, industry, non-profit organizations, and other government agencies, including the Canadian Space Agency. Most field research at HMP is carried out during HMP field campaigns, which take place each summer. Research at HMP presents opportunities for graduate and undergraduate student participation. In 2019, the HMP established the HMP Apollo Fellowship Program, a new field internship program for graduate students and year 3 and 4 undergraduates.

The HMP Research Station

The Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS), the HMP’s Base Camp on Devon Island, is located at 75o 26' N, 89o 52' W, in the northwestern rim area of Haughton Crater. The HMPRS was established at its present location in 2000. The HMPRS is currently the largest privately operated polar research station in the world, and the only one dedicated to planetary analog science and exploration studies.

            The HMP Research Station includes a central core and a series of modular tents radiating from the core, including the Office, Systems, Geology Lab, Astrobiology Lab, Garage/Workshop, and Medical Tents. The Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse (ACMG) is an additional stand-alone structure supporting studies in plant growth research. The HMPRS also includes the HMP Airstrip, a 200 m (800 ft) – long dirt strip.

            The HMP operates a substantial fleet of surface mobility systems, including 12 ATVs (quad bikes), 1 Side By Side, 1 Amphibious Rover, and 2 Humvees, the HMP Mars-1 (red) and the HMP Okarian (yellow). The Humvees serve as analog pressurized rovers, but also as mobile field labs, mobile field shelters, large payload carriers, and medevac ambulances. The HMP Okarian’s epic journey on sea-ice along the fabled Northwest Passage was captured in the award-winning documentary film Passage To Mars.

Locaton Map of Haughton Crater on Devon Island (Adapted from a National Geographic map)
HMP Fast Facts:

WHAT: International multidisciplinary field research project in the Arctic to advance Moon/Mars science and exploration.


WHERE: Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) and surrounding terrain around Haughton impact crater, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada.


WHEN: HMP field deployments have taken place every summer since 1997. HMP’s Northwest Passage Drive Expedition (see movie PASSAGE TO MARS) took place in winter/spring.


WHO: HMP is led from NASA Ames Research Center by HMP Director Pascal Lee of Mars Institute and SETI Institute. HMP Base Camp Manager: John W. Schutt. Typical HMPRS population: 4 to 13.


WHY: To advance Moon and Mars science and exploration by learning from, and in, a highly relevant planetary analog environment. 

Click here for HMP FAQs

For More Information:

Selected Publications


NASA Analog Missions



HMP Research Papers



Related Websites


NASA HMP Website



Recent Videos


Mars On Earth: A Visit to Devon Island, by Google (2019)


Mars On Earth: Astronaut Canyon (2019)


Mars On Earth: FYBR and NASA HMP (2016)


Mars Calling Stavanger: Let’s Go to Mars Together! (2012)


Mars On Earth: Kawasaki ATVs (2011):



Documentary Features


Passage To Mars (2016)


Mission Asteroid (2013)


2019: Destination Moon (2009)



Guided Tour


Mars On Earth: HMP Guided Tour on Google Earth

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