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Spaceward Bound: Arctic 2008

(July 25 to August 2)

map of axel heiberg island

The McGill Arctic Research Station (MARS) was established in 1960 at Expedition Fjord on Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian high Arctic. MARS is one of the longest-operating seasonal field research facilities in the high Arctic and has the longest continuous mass balance record for any high Arctic glacier (White Glacier). The station consists of a small research hut, a cook house and 2 temporary structures. It can comfortably accommodate 8-12 persons and provides access to glacier, ice cap and polar desert environments. The overarching aim of research undertaken at MARS is the understanding of physical and biological processes in cold polar desert and glacierized environments. In recent years three themes have dominated most of the research projects, permafrost hydrology, extreme environment biology and astrobiology.

The mission of Spaceward Bound is to train the next generation of space explorers by having students and teachers participate in the exploration of scientifically interesting but remote and extreme environments on Earth as analogs for human exploration of the Moon and Mars. Spaceward Bound Field Expeditions involve teachers in authentic fieldwork so that they can bring that experience back to their classrooms and assist in the development of curriculum related to human exploration of remote and extreme environments.

Arctic Profile

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: July 2008
Teachers Contact: Liza Coe