Technical recommendations to improve Mars Desert Research Station safety, simulation, and science

Sarah Jane Pell, Ryan L. Kobrick, Zac Trolley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

5 Citations (Scopus)


We, the Crew 188, offer technical and psychosocial system recommendations based on our experience of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Our aim is to help realise future, sustainable programme of space exploration, utilisation, and commercial development. We offer recommendations supporting the pursuit of technical goals drawn from a broad, forward-looking view of the technologies and systems needed including technical engineering, scientific, cultural, political, and societal. MDRS seeks to offer amenities to support likely Mars-planetary space activities and experience remote, isolated, and extreme habitability. Under today's operational constraints and an aging facility, the design and operation of MDRS could be much improved. For example, Crew 188 faced a hazardous environment in the form of a propane leak in the main habitat and a situation highlighting an inadequate response or protection mechanism; below-normal mission standard provisions including reduced water, food and up-link data streams; and the cessation of crew waste removal and water delivery services. Our responses to such challenges led to these recommendations sufficiently well focused to allow tangible progression and dramatic improvements over current MDRS capabilities to be realised in the foreseeable future. Future Mars crews will be expected to “rough it" but they will also expect the autonomy, agency, and security of basic `luxury' provisions to create a home-away-from-home that supports a reasonable quality of working life. The Mars Society, and other analogues, could invest a small amount, for a large return on safety, simulation and science priority goals. A robust communications array, a thorough audit of essential health and safety provisions including emergency evacuation protocols; non-toxic waste disposal, Material Safety Data Sheets and up-to-date technical Engineering Schematics of the Habitat systems designs; and the advertised rations of food and water provisions, would ensure better health management of the crew and the local environment. Ultimately the real transformational value lies in the up-take of both public and private enterprise for sufficiently advancing our human capacity for technologies and systems for supporting a higher fidelity of simulation, and operational standards, for future exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIAC - 69th International Astronautical Congress, Bremen 2018
EditorsOtto Koudelka
Place of PublicationFrance
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation (IAF)
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2018 - Bremen, Germany
Duration: 1 Oct 20185 Oct 2018
Conference number: 69th (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
ISSN (Print)0074-1795


ConferenceInternational Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2018
Abbreviated titleIAC-18
Internet address


  • Analogue
  • Habitability
  • Operation
  • Safety Design
  • Space Architecture
  • Standardisation

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