WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Some Purdue University students and alumni are gearing up for a two-week mission to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.
The seven-member team was selected by the Purdue chapter of The Mars Society to take part in a simulation mission. The team, called Boilers2Mars, will take over command of the research station on Dec. 30 and pass it on to the next team on Jan. 14.
It's a dream come true for most of the crew members.
Crew geologist and Purdue alumnus Cesare Guariniello said the skills he will use for research at the station will prepare him for what he hopes to achieve someday.
"Most of us in the group, as you can imagine, want to apply for astronaut life. And this is great for us to train ourselves and see if we are actually fit for the job," said Guariniello.
"It's a dream place for those of us who want to go into space someday," said Kshitij Mall, an executive officer with the group.
The out-of-this-world simulated environment includes a small two-story habitat, a scientific laboratory and a greenhouse.
"As you know when we go to Mars, the job of the aerospace engineers is to help with transportation," said Mall. "We build rockets that take us from here to Mars. But once we reach Mars, then what?"
Members of the diverse team have a variety of backgrounds and unique skills to help them answer that question.
"We will study what rocks are there, what we can use and how we can navigate on Mars," said Guariniello. "It's a lot of interesting projects that will be useful for future human exploration on Mars."
They will get to have a little fun too.
"We will spend New Year's Day in the facility, so we are organizing a celebration," said Guariniello. "We also have a birthday during the two weeks we are there. We are trying to have fun and work and do our research."
In addition to their own research, the team will perform tests on new space suits used in extra-vehicular activities with hopes they can be used in outer space someday.
Boilers2Mars team members for the mission include:
• Max Fagin, commander of the crew and a Purdue alumnus.
• Kshitij Mall, executive officer and a doctoral student in aeronautics and astronautics.
• Melanie Grande, crew engineer and undergraduate student in aeronautics and astronautics.
• Cesare Guariniello, crew geologist and a Purdue alumnus.
• Justin Mansel, crew journalist and doctoral student in aeronautics and astronautics.
• Mark Gee, Green Habitat officer and undergraduate student in bioengineering, biochemistry and plant breeding.
• Samuel Albert, health and safety officer and undergraduate student in computer sciences and aeronautics and astronautics.
• James Nolan, the backup crew member, is pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural and biological engineering. Briony Horgan, an assistant professor of planetary science, and Marshall Porterfield, a professor in agricultural and biological engineering, are faculty advisers for the team.
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