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Haughton-Mars Project Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is Devon Island Mars-like?

Like Mars, Devon Island is cold, dry, barren, desolate, icy, rocky, dusty, windy, UV-soaked, dominated by vast plateaus and plains, blanketed by boulder fields and ancient lakebeds, cut by canyons, valley networks and gullies, and scarred by impact.

Devon Island is also different from Mars in important ways. For instance Mars’ gravity is lower, its atmosphere thinner, the age of its rocks and terrains older, the composition of its rocks is different, its climate more extreme (colder and dryer), its surface radiation conditions more intense, etc.

Nevertheless, Devon Island presents a wide range of environmental attributes, geologic features, and biological traits, that are relevant to advancing the science and exploration of the Moon or Mars. Indeed, DevonIsland is considered to be one of the most Mars-like places on Earth and is commonly referred to as “Mars On Earth”.


How is Devon Island Moon-like?

During Project Constellation, NASA used the HMP to plan future lunar exploration, in particular because Haughton Crater is similar in size to the 19 km-diameter Shackleton Crater at the South Pole of the Moon, thus allowing lunar surface science and exploration operations around the lunar polar crater to be studied at a relevant scale. NASA was also considering establishing a base on the rim of Shackleton Crater, much like the HMPRS is set up on the rim of Haughton Crater. The distinctive gray colored impact rubble deposits inside Haughton Crater also make for a very Moon-like landscape.

The HMP continues to support lunar science and exploration studies in preparation for human returning to the Moon.


How to Participate in the HMP?

Participation in the HMP is predicated on identifying high quality collaborative field research, education, and/or outreach projects of relevance to advancing planetary science and/or exploration, in particular of the Moon and/or Mars. Projects must demonstrate that they would benefit uniquely from being implemented at HMP, as opposed to elsewhere.

Prospective participants interested in the HMP should contact the HMP Director (P. Lee; see contact info below) to discuss potential project scope, teaming, fit at HMP, logistics, and adequate source(s) and level of support.

            If funding for the proposed research must be sought, US-based researchers may consider applying for research support through NASA’s Planetary Science and Technology for Analog Research (PSTAR), Planetary Protection (PP), and other NASA science and/or technology programs. Canada-based researchers may consider applying for research support through Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) and/or through the Canadian Space Agency.

            Graduate students and year 3 or 4 undergraduates may be considered for participation in field research projects – existing ones or projects proposed by the students – subject to selection and the availability of adequate support.

            Detailed procedures to follow to qualify for, and engage in, a field deployment at HMP may vary from year to year, depending on field research projects, logistics, safety, and security.

            Contact Info: HMP Director: Dr Pascal Lee,


How Challenging and Safe is HMP?

The HMP operates during the Arctic summer when temperatures are typically of order -5oC to +10oC, i.e., significantly less cold than during the rest of the year. Given possible strong winds, wind chill temperatures may still be as low as -20oC to -0oC.

            The HMP is a “bring your own tent” project, in which each field participant is expected to bring his/her own personal camping tent and sleeping bag. An “Equipment List”, updated each year, is provided to each confirmed participant to allow him/her to plan for all needed gear.

            Fieldwork at HMP can be physically and mentally demanding, and requires reasonable physical fitness and the exercise of good judgment at all times. Each participant is required to demonstrate that he/she has passed, within the past year, the equivalent of a FAA Class 3 Medical Examination. No alcohol or illegal drugs are allowed at HMP.

            Typical highly physical activities at HMP include moving (sometimes heavy) items of cargo, hiking up and down steep rocky scree slopes, and riding ATVs (all-terrain vehicles or “quad bikes”).

            Safety is paramount at HMP. The project provides safety briefings and training both in advance of, and during, each field deployment. In 22 consecutive years of operation each summer during which over 10,000 person-days of field activities have been logged, the HMP has not experienced a single serious accident (an accident from which an injured person did not recover within days).

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