Heading to Mars
experiential research, analog astronauting

Heading to Mars

Mars Society Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), Crew 119, Dec 1-14 2013

In this Martian analog on Earth, the crew spent 2 weeks living and working in a remote, simulated habitat: planning Extra Vehicular Activities, wearing space suits, exploring the terrain on foot or via rovers, maintain/upgrading systems, and experiencing a tin-can existence. Through this research, they’ll be able to better understand how people will live and work effectively on the Red Planet.

My mission was to document what life will be like for the first humans on Mars from "a feet on the ground" perspective. This work was research for my MFA Thesis project: a live musical performance and concept album around the theme of humanity crossing the sea of space and touching down on a familiar new world, robotcowboy: Onward to Mars.

Mars Society MDRS page / Crew 119 MDRS subpage / MDRS on Google Maps


Heading to Mars cover

As Crew Journalist, I wrote a daily report in the "first landing" perspective and compiled pictures to send to Mission Support. After returning to Earth, this information was compiled into a book, Heading to Mars, which was self published using the electronic book machine at the University of Pittsburgh in a limited run. ISBN 2810000150197

Electronic versions are available here:


Press about my particular trip

CMU Tartan Article: Professor, students take a trip to an alien destination

CMU Piper: Mars Adventure: Two-week Simulation Spurs Imagination of Students, Lecturer


This project was presented at the 17th Annual Mars Society Convention in Houston, TX August 2014.

The paper was published in the conference proceedings. A PDF copy is available here: Heading to Mars: MDRS Field Journal, Crew 119 PDF


Before heading to the MDRS, I did a little training in the red soil of my hometown, Huntsville AL:


Visit the Flickr collection and the highlights album:

Heading to Mars