The Desert Crossings of Mars

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C.S. Cockell (2001), JBIS, 54, 270-276

Refcode: 2001.54.270
Keywords: Desert, expeditions, humans, Mars, Sahara, exploration

Apart from the polar caps, the Martian volcanoes and the Valles Marineris, ~80% of the martian surface can essentially be classified as `desert'. The methods used to explore Mars, the scientific priorities and the philo- sophical and historical precedents that drive human exploration on Mars will primarily come from our experiences in terrestrial deserts. Here, the methods and approaches used for terrestrial desert expeditions are discussed with reference to Mars. Some of the physical challenges such as low temperature and frost formation will be akin to cold polar desert exploration on Earth. However, some challenges, such as dust storms and lack of liquid water will be akin to hot desert exploration. Expeditions that draw the appropriate lessons from both hot and cold desert terrestrial expeditions will succeed. Examples of major regions on Mars that might be regarded as significant exploratory challenges for expeditions are identified. Key parameters of these expeditions including distance and plausible scientific objectives are provided.

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