MarsTweetup: experience a Mars analog simulation in a cave

Since Nasa started organizing tweetups for space events I always had in mind to do a similiar thing in Austria. But I wasn’t sure if such an event could attrack tweeps to come to Austria. Then last year the first #spacetweetup was annoucend. A tweetup on European soil organized by DLR (German Aerospace Center) and ESA (European Space Agency), what unique opportunity for me. Of course I had to apply and luckily got in. This day was amazing (more articles on #spacetweetup) and after that day it was clear I want to organize a tweetup in Austria too and I was sure, my new friends will help me.

But what event could be attractive enough, so that people from Europe would like to travel too?
How about a Mars analog simulation, where a Mars spacesuit simulator is tested? How about a test site, which is situated at ca. 1,300 sealevel in a cave, in a region which is a world heritage site?

Sounds great :-)

And as I’m a volunteer at the Austrian Space Forum (@oewf), which is building the Mars analog spacesuit simulator Aouda.X, I conviced the OEWF board, that we have to do a tweetup during our Dachstein Mars Simulation and the idea of the #MarsTweetup was born.

Dachstein Giant Ice Cave

Inside the Giant Ice cave

Some context on the Dachstein Mars Simulation:
Between 27Apr – 01May2012, a five day Mars simulation, coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum, will take place at the Dachstein caves (Mammoth & Giant Ice cave) in Austria. The Dachstein region is located in southern Upper Austria near Hallstatt in Austria (47°28′32.5″N 13°36′23.2″E). The geology of the Dachstein massif is dominated by the so-called Dachstein-Kalk (“Dachstein limestone”), dating from Triassic times. In common with other karstic areas, the Dachstein is permeated by a rich cave system, including some of the largest caves in Austria. The Dachstein is also famous for its fossils, including megalodonts.

But why in the world, should we go into a cave for a Mars simulation?

Since serveral years we know that caves exist on Mars and that these caves are probably one of the hotspots for astrobiology on that planet. Caves are a natural shelter against the harsh environment on the surface of Mars and it’s only logical if humans once make a step on Mars, they probably will look into caves too. Therefore is necessary to investigate in operational issues related to (sub)surface operations in a Mars analog environment.

20 Twitter followers have the chance to be part of this unique Mars simulation. This kind of test has never been done before.  Not only the Aouda.X spacesuit simulator will be tested, also international partners will participate at the simulation. The Polish MarsSociety, will test their MAGMA2 rover, who won the University Rover Challenge in 2011, a team of the WISDOM rader (a rader experiment on ESA’s ExoMars rover) will also conduct experiments as well as the Part-Time Scientist (a Google Lunar X-Prize team who are building a lunar rover) and the Jet Propulsion Lab (remote science experiment).

Registration for #MarsTweetup is open until 8th March, 12:00 p.m. CET.

#MarsTweetup will be held on Saturday, 28th April 2011 (ca. 09:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m)

Read also: Official annoucement for #MarsTweetup