Mountaineering and Climbing on Mars

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K.L. Cowing (2004), JBIS, 57, 113-125

Refcode: 2004.57.113
Keywords: Mountaineering, exploration, spacesuit, climbing, Mars

Initial human missions to Mars will be a precious commodity wherein a maximum amount of information is gathered by each crew. As was the case during innumerable terrestrial missions of exploration, the Martian terrain that visiting crews must traverse in order to gain an understanding will often be difficult. This is accentuated by the fact that Mars is a world of geology - one whose surface area is equal to dry surface on Earth. Human crews will be called upon to use a variety of skills and tools to traverse the Martian surface - including those often associated with hiking, mountaineering and technical climbing. While rovers and other mechanical devices will be employed, it should be assumed that skills commonly associated with rock climbing, caving, and mountaineering on Earth will also be required. This paper looks at the human factors associated with such activity on Mars: space suit design requirements, life support, tools and procedures, traverse planning, logistics issues and navigation. Implications for adaptation of terrestrial gear will be examined as will implications raised by planetary protection. Lessons learned during sorties conducted on the lunar surface during the Apollo program are discussed.

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