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The Mars Desert Research Station

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In the vast open spaces of southern Utah, Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart recently paid a visit to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Built and operated by a space advocacy group called the Mars Society, the research facility is investigating the feasibility of human exploration of Mars, using the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet. Since 2000, more than 100 small crews have served two-week rotations in the MDRS, conducting research in an on-site greenhouse, observatory, engineering area, and living space. Urquhart was able to accompany members of the Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission inside the MDRS facility, and on a simulated trip to collect Martian geological samples. [24 photos]

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Hans van 't Woud, a mapping researcher and the health and safety officer of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, collects geologic samples to be studied at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) outside Hanksville in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet. Scientists, students and enthusiasts work together developing field tactics and studying the terrain. All outdoor exploration is done wearing spacesuits and carrying air supply packs and crews live together in a small communication base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and water. Everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
Hans van 't Woud, a mapping researcher and the health and safety officer of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, collects geologic samples to be studied at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) outside Hanksville in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet. Scientists, students and enthusiasts work together developing field tactics and studying the terrain. All outdoor exploration is done wearing spacesuits and carrying air supply packs and crews live together in a small communication base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and water. Everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission enjoy a meal in the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. Cards with the names of previous crew members adorn the doors and walls. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Matt Cross, an engineer with Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, works on a rover inside the MDRS, on March 3, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Melissa Battler, a geologist and commander of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, works on her simulated spacesuit inside the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
The Musk Observatory, seen from inside the working and living quarters of the MDRS, outside Hanksville, in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Matt Cross (left), rover engineer, Hans van 't Woud (center), mapping researcher and health and safety officer, and Melissa Battler, geologist and commander of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, wait in an airlock in their simulated spacesuits before venturing out to collect geologic samples in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Volker Maiwald (left), executive officer and habitat engineer, and Hans van 't Woud, of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, wait in an airlock in their simulated spacesuits before venturing out to collect geologic samples, on March 3, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Matt Cross (left), and Hans van 't Woud, venture out in their simulated spacesuits to collect geologic samples to be studied at the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Melissa Battler emerges from the Mars Desert Research Station into the Utah desert, on March 3, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission venture into the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Volker Maiwald walks among the rock formations during a simulated Mars walk in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Csilla Orgel, a geologist of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, collects rock samples to be studied at the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, in their simulated spacesuits near the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Melissa Battler collects geologic samples in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Csilla Orgel collects a geologic samples for study in the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Melissa Battler (left) and Csilla Orgel climb a rock formation in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission return to the MDRS after collecting geologic samples, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Members of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission re-enter the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Melissa Battler studies collected geologic samples inside the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Hans van 't Woud checks on plants grown in the greenhouse inside the MDRS, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Matt Cross works at his computer inside the MDRS, on March 3, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
A vintage map of Mars hangs on the wall at of the MDRS, photographed on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
A view of the night sky above the Mars Desert Research Station, in the Utah desert, on March 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #

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