Landing Sites for the Human Exploration of Mars
In March 2007, the NASA Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) established a panel, "Human Exploration of Mars Science Analysis Group (HEM-SAG): Planning for the Scientific Exploration of Mars by Humans." HEM-SAG was charged to assess the scientific goals and objectives for the exploration of Mars by humans and to identify potential landing sites for human exploration of Mars. MEPAG asked Dr. James B. Garvin (Chief Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) and Dr. Joel S. Levine (formerly Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center and now, Research Professor of Applied Science at The College of William & Mary) to serve as co-chairs of the HEM-SAG panel and to select about 30 Mars scientists from the U.S., Canada and Europe to serve on the panel. The HEM-SAG panel identified 58 geologically interesting sites for human landing and scientific exploration on Mars (References 1, 2 and 3). The results of HEM-SAG panel were incorporated in the NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0 (Reference 4).
During the Spring 2013 semester, students in the Planetary Geology course at William & Mary (taught by: Professors Christopher Bailey and Joel S. Levine) , analyzed a number of the HEM-SAG landing sites for scientific exploration by humans. The students formed teams of three students each and selected a potential HEM-SAG identified Mars landing site for their research project. The students were asked to describe the potential landing site in terms of geology, mineralogy, topography, etc. In addition, the students were asked to develop a "fieldtrip" for the astronauts to address the key scientific questions about the site. The results of the student's analysis of the HEM-SAG landing sites were reported in a series of Power Point presentation to the entire class and are reproduced here.
Landing Site Studies Click a presentation to download
1. MEPAG HEM-SAG , 2008: Planning for the Scientific Exploration of Mars by Humans,90 pages. Draft white paper for review posted March 2008 by the MarsExploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) (http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/index.html).
2. Levine, J. S., J. B. Garvin and D. Beaty, 2010: Humans on Mars: Why Mars? Why Humans? Planning for the Scientific Exploration of Mars by Humans, Part 1. Journal of Cosmology, 12, 3627-3635 (http://journalofcosmology.com/Mars115.html).
3. Levine, J. S., J. B. Garvin and J. B. Head, 2010: Martian Geology Investigations. Planning for the Scientific Exploration of Mars by Humans, Part 2. Journal of Cosmology, 12, 3636-3646 (http://journalofcosmology.com/Mars116.html).
4. Drake, B. G., Editor, 2009: Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0, 100 pages. NASA/SP-2009-566 (http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/373665main_NASA-SP-2009-566.pdf).