Life on Mars: Spacesuits in the Outback
Starry, starry night
IMAGE BY Matthew F Reyes/Exploration Solutions
With its unearthly rock formations, layered stromatolites, and picturesque red sand, the Pilbara, in the West Australian outback, greatly resembles the surface of Mars. This year, a team of researchers from NASA, along with the Australian Mars Society, tested out the efficiency of Spacesuits in the area. On the expedition was American Matthew Reyes, whose photography not only captures the mission - but the beauty of our country. For more, see this month's issue of PopSci where Matthew's pictures feature on page 26. View more images at flickr.com/people/motorbikematt/
The spacesuit prototype seen here currently has no air conditioning, just a small battery powered fan. It may have been July, but temperatures in the Pilbara can still exceed 30 degrees - that's one sweaty spacesuit! The NASA NDX-1 suit was designed by scientists at the University of North Dakota, and has six layers of protection, pressurisation and softer seams for easy movement.
This stromatolite is one of the Earth's most ancient snapshots into its earliest formations. The multitude of layers are formed by mucus-secreting ancient microbes, which harden into a timeline of cemented sedimentary grains. For more of what this means about life on Mars, see our November issue - in stores now.
All By Myself
The Pilbara is known for its great expanses of... well... nothing. Except for sand, lots and lots of hot red sand. This photograph exemplifies the feeling of 'smallness' that visitors to the Australian outback often describe. There's not much life out there - but is there life on Mars?
Not something you see every day...
These local indigenous children were fascinated by the expedition. The program involved students and teachers from nearby schools, as well as educators from across the country. The idea was to get pupils more interested in space, and in astronomy, science and geology as future career prospects.
This curious canine looks down the camera lens as if to say, "I refuse to be the first dog you send to Mars - we all know what happened to my mate the Russians sent to space!" Read the article in PopSci's November issue to find out how long the experts predict it'll take for humans to get to Mars.
Don't expect to see one of these on Mars! Although, scientists have found that Earth and Mars were probably once very similar - 3.5 million years ago. Pick up this month's issue to find out why, and how.
What lurks beneath
Long ago, Earth was probably completely covered in water. These stromatolites in Shark Bay, a popular spot on the West Australian coast, are some of the oldest and best in the world.
Starry, starry night
Can we see Mars from here? The desert location is an absolute dream for astronomers and stargazers, as it's free of artificial light pollution from cities. This is a shot of the camp occupied by the researchers during the expedition.
The remote location of the research proved hard to get to - but it was still an easier task than controller NASA's space rover on Mars. Human 'marsonauts', according to some, would be a much more effective tool on the red planet.