AeroAstro Engineering Student Explores Living on Mars
Meghan Brown posted on January 18, 2018 |

Mars exploration is a hot topic for the engineering world, with researchers around the globe working to design habitats, exploration rovers, rocket engines and satellites.  While these are all essential to getting us to Mars—and enabling us to stay awhile—we also need to know what to expect once humans touch down.

If you’re trying to imagine what it will be like to live and work on the surface of Mars, this is where projects such as the Poland Mars Analogue Simulation come in. The engineers and scientists who might one day be the first to set foot on the Red Planet are the current generation of researchers experimenting with habitat simulations of Mars while still on Earth.

Aeronautics and Astronautucs (AAE) graduate student Jennifer Pouplin recently participated in the PMAS project, which was a dream come true. She is pursuing a double diploma in mechanical engineering in France, as well as an MS in aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University, with a focus on astrodynamics and propulsion, and an interest in mission design. This made her an ideal fit for the PMAS team.

The Lunares Martian airbase in western Poland.
The Lunares Martian airbase in western Poland.

“The PMAS 2017 is one of a kind mission, among analogue missions, that will potentially help us set foot on Mars,” said Pouplin. “Through my studies, I have always been motivated to help explore our Universe, and especially being part of the Mars Exploration. Being part of the crew as an analogue astronaut will give me an incredible insight on the life of an astronaut, thus helping me as an engineer to work on concept studies.”

Poland Mars Analogue Simulation Crew (Pouplin is third from the right, top)

Poland Mars Analogue Simulation Crew. Pouplin is third from the right, top. (Image courtesy of Purdue.)

Pouplin was one of six volunteer astronauts who worked through a realistic schedule of space exploration while living inside the simulated Mars colony in Poland.

The experiment is designed to support real missions to Mars by giving researchers and future astronauts the chance to see what working and living on Mars will be like, as well as gaining an understanding of how prolonged living in these environments will affect future planetary explorers.

“This was a tremendous opportunity for me to experience what life is like for astronauts and produce data to help future missions to Mars,” Pouplin says. “As an analogue astronaut, I was part of a crew participating in various scientific experiments, monitoring the daily life of an astronaut and also motivating younger generations for space exploration.”

“This mission would allow us to perform scientific experiments, to better understand the reaction of human beings, but also guide engineers to design adequate concept studies that fits astronaut's needs,” Pouplin added.

To learn more about AeroAstro engineering at Purdue, check out this article.

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