Western University preps for Mars

Next month NASA will start taking applications for astronauts looking to be the first to set foot on the planet Mars. Meanwhile, a joint program between the Canadian space agency and Western University has made London Ontario ‘Mission Control’ for a simulated mission to the red planet.

A group of very smart students from various universities and disciplines are controlling one robot on the not-so-faraway planet of Mars, kind of. “We have a rover in Utah which is simulating being on Mars.”

While 225 million kilometres apart, the Curiosity and Utah’s ‘Mars exploration science rover’ are both asking the same questions.

“What is the habitability of the region that we’re looking at? What’s the past habitability of the region? With the point being, whether life used to exist there or whether it does today.”

Practising such missions will come in handy sooner than you would think. NASA said they want to have a person or a team of people on the red planet by the year 2030. And they won’t be doing it alone, agencies like the Canadian space agency are expected to help out. Which is why programs like this are so important so that our guys are ready when their number is called.

“Everybody thinks that the Americans can do things and that NASA can do things, some people don’t even realize that Canada has a space agency.” said Tanya Harrison, who operates the mast cam.

“I think it’s helpful for the public and kids that they can see that they can live in Canada and still be involved in space.”

And perhaps they can one day go where no man has gone before.