They may look like astronauts exploring a distant planet, but in fact these pictures show a group of scientists who are living and working right here on Earth. Earlier this month, the NASA rover, Curiosity, found conditions once suited to life, on Mars, and now their work seems even more significant. They are conducting research into how Mars might one day be made habitable by humans.
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These images, taken by Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart, reveal the research undertaken at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) where a crew of scientists work, study and live together in conditions designed to simulate being on Mars.
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.
An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows Mars could once have supported living microbes, adding weight to the theory that Mars might one day be made habitable by humans.
On the Curiosity mission, rock samples from Mars showed evidence of oxygen, sulfur, carbon, hydrogen, phosphorus and nitrogen – some of the key chemical ingredients for life – on the Red Planet last month.
Scientists claim new data is 'strongest evidence yet' that Mars may have supported life