In 2006 members of The British Interplanetary Society, led by the scientist Charles Cockell published an extensive report on the design of a human base located at the Martian North pole. This was Project Boreas, and was named after the Greek God of the North Wind. The study ran from 2003 and was an international project involving over 25 scientists and engineers. Its primary aim was to design a station to carry out science and exploration in the Martian polar region. In particular, the retrieval of a core sample from the polar ice cap was seen as a primary objective of the mission giving vital information about the martian geological and climatological variations throughout the planets history.
The crew would be up to 10 people remaining on the surface for 1173 sol-days. Any crew would have to deal with psychological and social problems with being confined within a small space and with the same people for so long. The crew would be kept busy by solving many technical problems as they occur, or by focusing on the science objectives of the mission.
The study conclusions allowed for flexibility in exploration objectives, relating to the subjects of geology, geophysics, astronomy, climatology and astrobiology. The crew would embark on daily expeditions across the planets surface and make many discoveries to report back to Earth. The station was designed with present-day technology and considered all aspects to the station such as the power requirements, thermal control, science laboratories, human habitation and life support systems. Other aspects to the mission were also considered such as surface drilling and surface transportation.
The proposed mission date for such a station was 2038 with a crew staying for the duration of the mission, lasting three summers and two winters, and then returning to Earth in 2042, several years later.
Exploration based missions like that proposed for Project Boreas will make eventual human colonization of Mars possible. Humans have walked upon the surface of the Moon and many consider Mars to the be next logical step. When the international space agencies finally decide to make the first attempt, the British Interplanetary can be proud of its contribution as proposed in Project Boreas and many other papers published in JBIS over the years.
Please click here to purchase a copy of the Project Boreas Report.