MDRS Call for Applicants

Do you want a chance to gain some first hand experience as an astronaut crewmember on a simulated Mars mission? The Mars Society is currently looking for people to apply to the 9th season of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah. MDRS is similar to FMARS, but crews generally only spend 2-week rotations at the site, which is only about 7 miles (11 km) from the town of Hanksville.

Whereas FMARS crewmembers had to pay over $5000 to cover expenses, MDRS crewmembers only have to come up with $1000 plus travel funds. Some limited Spaceward Bound grants are available to students or teachers. Otherwise, you can get the Mars Society to match up to $500 of your expenses if you can secure funding from an external institution. The application deadline is September 15. You can read the press release on their website or below.

The Mars Society is now seeking crew members for the 9th season of field operations at the Mars Desert Research Station, scheduled to run between November 14, 2009 and April 18, 2010. Come and join one of the world's longest-running and most successful space simulation projects!

Interested parties should send a resume to, and then fill out the optional online application (which will help speed the review process) before the September 15, 2009 deadline.

Applications should include your full name, contact information, three references from a work or school environment, resume, projects for your rotation, and should list all crew rotations that you would be available to participate in, plus the crew position (engineer, biologist, geologist, journalist, etc) that you are seeking. To enhance your chance of finding a crew rotation it is very important that you list ALL slots that you could participate in. Potential rotations are as follows:'

Nov. 14-Nov. 28 Stoker led crew: DOMEX
Nov. 28-Dec. 11 Mars Society selected crew members
Dec. 12-Dec. 26 Mars Society selected crew members
Dec. 26-Jan. 9 Spaceward bound student crew
Jan. 9-Jan. 23 Mars Society selected crew members
Jan. 24-Feb. 7 Mars Society selected crew members
Feb. 7-Feb. 20 Mars Society selected crew members
Feb. 21-March 6 Foing / EuroGeoMars
March 7-March 20 Clark-led crew: DOMEX & EuroGeoMars
March 21-April 3 Mars Society selected crew members
April 4-April 18 Mars Society selected crew members

Only the crew dates with 'Mars Society selected crew members' are available. The other dates are filled by research partners of the Mars Society. After the application deadline the selection committee will decide which rotations will be approved, and which applicants will be invited to participate. All applicants will be informed of the committee's final decision as soon as possible after it is made.

Please note that while previous MDRS crew experience will be a bonus on your application, it is by no means mandatory. Additionally, a proposed plan of research during your rotation is a strong bonus, but is not required, particularly if your skills would be useful in support of other crew members' research operations.

Also, a good command of the English language, both spoken and written, is beneficial. If your English is not that good, please be honest about that, and mention your primary language, in order to give the selection committee the chance to team you up with someone who speaks your primary language.

Every participant is expected to pay $1,000 to cover the costs of the 2-week simulation.'

There are two types of grants available:
  1. Matching funds grant from The Mars Society: anyone securing funding from a sponsoring institution will receive a matching $500 grant from The Mars Society
  2. Full Spaceward Bound student / teacher grant of $1,000 plus a $500 travel grant
Information on who is eligible for these grants can be obtained here.

Deadline for applications for these grants is November 1, 2009

To be eligible for these grants, a student or teacher must be willing to give a minimum of 5 presentations or lectures over the next 12 months after his/her rotation about the MDRS project.

Every crewmember is expected to provide the Mars Society a full list of media attention he/she receives (with weblinks where applicable); plus a full list of any publications/lectures/presentations stemming from the MDRS crew rotation, again with weblinks where applicable.

Preparation for your rotation will benefit from following the Mission Support discussion list prior to any assigned rotation and is therefore highly recommended for all crewmembers. All crew commanders and crew engineers are expected to participate in the Mission Support discussion for at least two weeks before and two weeks following their assigned rotation. This to ensure smooth crew changeovers between crews.

The Mars Society provides transportation from Grand Junction, Colorado, where every participant is expected to arrive on Friday before the start of the rotation. Return trip to Grand Junction, Co, will be on the Saturday evening at the end of the two week rotation. Participants are expected to cover the costs of their travel to and from Grand Junction, their overnight stay on Friday night before their rotation and Saturday night after their rotation. The Mars Society has an agreement for a competitive room rate in Grand Junction with the Sandman Best Western. For a list of what to bring in gear and clothes please read the crew briefing documents carefully.

This season every crew will participate in a number of projects:
  1. Collect extremophile samples for an ongoing science research project
  2. Collect soil samples for an ongoing environmental impact study and therefore biologists with the proper experience of sampling in the field are especially invited to apply for the position of crew biologist. A precise description of the responsibilities of the crew biologists can be found on the application page.
  3. Medical non-invasive EVA study to measure strain of EVA on everyone’s health using a instrument like a 'Star Trek tricorder' as measuring tool
  4. Ongoing food study in cooperation with JSC under supervision of Dr. Kim Binsted of the university of Hawai'i. All food including snacks at the MDRS will be provided by The Mars Society.
Anyone applying for the position of crew engineer, a vitally important job for the station as a whole and your crew in particular, needs to have a varied background in many engineering / handyman duties, and needs to be willing to be trained on the systems of the station by the Engineering Team. and follow instructions from Mission Support.

Questions should be directed to


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