The Mars Society operates a desert analogue research facility outside of Hanksville, Utah, simulating a human outpost on the planet Mars. The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is essentially a volunteer / public version of NASA's Desert RATS studies. Teams of scientists and engineers routinely conduct two-week expeditions to MDRS. The experiments conducted by these teams are intended to help prepare for eventual human missions to Mars, the Moon, or other planetary destinations. The Space SIG previously sent four NSBE undergraduate students to join student expeditions organized by NASA Ames Research Center.
The Space SIG is now preparing a six-person NSBE crew for a 14-day expedition to the station, targeting the MDRS 2019-2020 operating season. This crew of six will include scientists and engineers to conduct peer-reviewed research related to scientific exploration of the Moon and Mars. The facility provides a full-immersion into a Mars-analogue environment, allowing research teams to study various aspects of life on another celestial body.