The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure

Training Jr. Astronauts, Scientists & Engineers

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Astrobiology: Occupy Mars Learning Adventures

Courses & Programs

Undergraduate Program Resources

Graduate Program Resources

Courses and MOOC’s (Past and Present)

Other Educational Resources

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Mars Research on the Uninhabited Devin Island

Devon Island

Native name: Tatlurutit
Truelove Lowlands Devon Island.jpg

Truelove Lowland, a polar oasis located in Devon Island
Devon Island, Canada.svg
Location Baffin Bay
Coordinates 75°08′N 087°51′WCoordinates: 75°08′N 087°51′W
Archipelago Queen Elizabeth Islands
Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Area 55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi)
Area rank 27th
Length 524 km (325.6 mi)
Width 155–476 km (96–296 mi)
Highest elevation 1,920 m (6,300 ft)
Highest point Devon Ice Cap
Territory Nunavut
Region Qikiqtaaluk Region
Population 0

Patterned ground permafrost pattern seen on Devon Island

Topography of Devon Island

Satellite photo montage of Devon Island and its neighbours

Devon Island (Inuit: Tatlurutit)[1] is the largest uninhabited island on Earth. It is located in Baffin Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is one of the larger members of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the second-largest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Canada’s sixth largest island, and the 27th-largest island in the world. It comprises 55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi) (slightly smaller than Croatia) of Precambrian gneiss and Paleozoic siltstones and shales.[2] The highest point is the Devon Ice Cap at 1,920 m (6,300 ft) which is part of the Arctic Cordillera. Devon Island contains several small mountain ranges, such as the Treuter Mountains, Haddington Range and the Cunningham Mountains.


History and settlement

Robert Bylot and William Baffin were the first Europeans to sight the island in 1616.[3] William Edward Parry charted its south coast in 1819-20,[4] and named it North Devon, after Devon in England, a name which was changed to Devon Island by the end of the 1800s.[5] In 1850 Edwin De Haven sailed up Wellington Channel and sighted the Grinnell Peninsula.[6]

An outpost was established at Dundas Harbour in 1924, and it was leased to Hudson’s Bay Company nine years later. The collapse of fur prices led to the dispersal of 53 Baffin Island Inuit families on the island in 1934. It was considered a disaster due to wind conditions and the much colder climate, and the Inuit chose to leave in 1936. Dundas Harbour was populated again in the late 1940s, but it was closed again in 1951. Only the ruins of a few buildings remain.


Because of its relatively high elevation and its extreme northern latitude, it supports only a meagre population of musk oxen and small birds and mammals; the island does support hypolith communities. Animal life is concentrated in the Truelove Lowland area of the island, which has a favourable microclimate and supports relatively lush Arctic vegetation. Temperatures during the brief (40 to 55 days) growing season seldom exceed 10 °C (50 °F), and in winter can plunge to as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). With a polar desert ecology, Devon Island receives very little precipitation.

Cape Liddon is an Important Bird Area (IBA) notable for its black guillemot and northern fulmar populations.[7] Cape Vera, another IBA site, is also noted for its northern fulmar population.[8]

Devon Island is also notable for the presence of the Haughton impact crater, created some 39 million years ago when a meteorite about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter crashed into what were then forests. The impact left a crater about 23 km (14 mi) in diameter, which was a lake for several million years.

Scientific research

Devon Island Research Station

The Devon Island Research Station was established in 1960 and it is maintained by the Arctic Institute of North America. It is located in Truelove Lowland, on the northeast coast of Devon Island (75°40′N 84°35′W).

Flashline MARS

The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station project entered its third season in 2004. In July 2004, Devon Island became the temporary home for five scientists and two journalists, who were to use the Mars-like environment to simulate living and working on the Red Planet. April 2007 through 21 August 2007 was the longest simulation period and included 20 scientific studies.[9]

The Haughton crater is now considered one of Earth’s best Mars analog sites. It is the summer home to a complementary scientific program, NASA‘s Haughton Mars Project. HMP has conducted geological, hydrological, botanical, and microbiological studies in this harsh environment since 1997.[10] HMP-2008 is the twelfth field season at Devon Island.[11]

In 2007, fossils of the seal ancestor Puijila darwini were found on the island.[12]

On July 16, 2013, the Canadian Space Agency assigned Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen to a secondment with the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration of the University of Western Ontario at Haughton Crater in preparation for a potential future manned exploration of Mars, the Moon or the asteroids.[13]





Further reading

  • Anderson, David G, and L C Bliss. 1998. “Association of Plant Distribution Patterns and Microenvironments on Patterned Ground in a Polar Desert, Devon Island, N.W.T., Canada”. Arctic and Alpine Research. 30, no. 2: 97.
  • Bliss, L. C. Truelove Lowland, Devon Island, Canada A High Arctic Ecosystem. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1977. ISBN 0-88864-014-5(Publisher description)
  • Cockell, Charles S, Pascal Lee, Andrew C Schuerger, Loretta Hidalgo, Jeff A Jones, and M Dale Stokes. 2001. “Microbiology and Vegetation of Micro-Oases and Polar Desert, Haughton Impact Crater, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada”. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. 33, no. 3: 306.
  • Lamoureux, Scott F, and Robert Gilbert. 2004. “A 750-Yr Record of Autumn Snowfall and Temperature Variability and Winter Storminess Recorded in the Varved Sediments of Bear Lake, Devon Island, Arctic Canada”. Quaternary Research. 61, no. 2: 134.
  • Paterson, W. S. B. “An Oxygen-Isotope Climate Record from the Devon Island Ice Cap, Arctic Canada”. Nature, Vol.266,No.5602. 1977.
  • Robertson, Peter, and G. D. Mason. Shatter Cones from Haughton Dome, Devon Island, Canada. 1975.
  • Thorsteinsson, R., and Ulrich Mayr. The Sedimentary Rocks of Devon Island, Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Ottawa, Canada: Geological Survey of Canada, 1987. ISBN 0-660-12319-3
  • Ugolini, Fiorenzo C, Giuseppe Corti, and Giacomo Certini. 2007. “Pedogenesis in the Sorted Patterned Ground of Devon Plateau, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada”. Geoderma. 136, no. 1: 87.

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50 Best Computer Schools in the World thought that you’d be interested in this article from Business Insider:

The 50 best computer science schools in the world
A computer science degree from a top university…

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Mars Time Clock for Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Program

Martian Mars Time Clock Kit


Build your very own Coordinated Mars Time (CMT) binary clock! This clock is designed to keep Coordinated Mars Time, which runs about 2.7% slower than Earth time. Wikipedia has a good article which explains Mars timekeeping:

This clock looks cool on an desk or table and makes a great conversation piece. Can be powered by a USB connection from a computer, USB hub or even a USB charger! The time is set with a simple on-board touch sensor.

Once built, you may set the time on the clock using this tool:

Everything you need to build your own working Mars time binary clock!

  • 1 – High Quality Lead-Free Professionally Printed Circuit Board 2″x2″
  • 1 – ATTINY44 Microcontroller
  • 20 – Red LEDS
  • 2 – 25 pF Capacitors
  • 1 – 16 Mhz Crystal
  • 6 – 75 ohm Resistors
  • 1 – Mini USB connector
  • 1 – 2 Pin Connector (touch sensor)
  • 1 – Assembly and Operation Instruction Sheet

Touch the sensor for 2-5 seconds to synchronize the clock to the nearest minute (forwards and backwards in time). Touch the sensor for more than 5 seconds and the time will advance, first through the minutes, then through the hours.

Watch the full demonstration video here!

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Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development
Audience: In-service, Pre-service, Home School and Informal Educators
Next Event Date: May 18, 2017, at 6 p.m. EDT
NASA Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships Virtual Career Summit
Audience: Higher Education Educators, Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Event Date: May 24, 2017, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. EDTNew From WGBH Education — The Solar Eclipse of 2017: Teacher Toolkit
Audience: K-12 Educators
Tweetchat Event: May 24, 2017, at 6 p.m. EDT

New FAQs and Amendments Posted — NASA Research Announcement: Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers (CP4SMPVC)
Audience: Formal and Informal Education Institutions
Proposal Deadline: June 19, 2017

New Lesson Plans Available on NASA/4-H Expeditionary Skills Website
Audience: 6-12 and Informal Educators

New ‘Teachable Moment’ Educational Resources Available From JPL Education — A Moment You Won’t Want to Miss: Cassini’s Daring Mission Finale Between the Rings and Saturn
Audience: K-12 Educators


Sign Up for NASA Education ‘Science WOW!’ Weekly Email Newsletter
Audience: All Educators and Students

Take Your Students on a Series of Virtual Field Trips!
Audience: Grades 6-12 Students and Educators, Formal and Informal
Next Event Date: May 18, 2017, 9 a.m. CDT

NASA’s Digital Learning Network Special Event With Beth Nielsen Chapman and Rocky Alvey
Audience: Educators and Students in Grades 5-12
Event Date: May 18, 2017, at 11 a.m. EDT

2017 Thermal and Fluids Analysis Workshop
Audience: Higher Education Educators and Students
Abstract Submission Deadline: May 19, 2017
Workshop Dates: Aug. 21-25, 2017

Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Presents ‘Making STEM Magic’ Program
Audience: All Educators and Students
Next Event Date: May 20, 2017, at 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. EDT

Space Shuttle Thermal Protective Tiles and Blankets Available for Educational Use
Audience: Educational Institutions, Museums and Other Education Organizations

NASA Mars Science: MAVEN Outreach Webinar — Mars and Venus: Terrestrial Analogues for Exoplanets
Audience: K-12 and Informal Educators
Event Date: May 24, 2017, 7 p.m. EDT

Student Spaceflight Experiments Program — Mission 12 to the International Space Station
Audience: School Districts Serving Grades 5-12, Informal Education Institutions, Colleges and Universities
Inquiry Deadline: May 31, 2017
Start Date: September 5, 2017

NASA Solar Eclipse Workshops at Marshall Space Flight Center
Audience: K-12 Educators
Next Workshop Date: June 1, 2017, 9-11 a.m. CDT

NASA History Program Office Internships — Fall 2017
Audience: Higher Education Educators and Students
Application Deadline: June 1, 2017

Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships
Audience: Undergraduate and Graduate Students at U.S. Universities and Colleges
Application Deadline: June 2, 2017

Get Ready for the 2017 Solar Eclipse With NASA Resources
Audience: All Educators and Students
Event Date: Aug. 21, 2017

Grant Competition — USAID Development Innovation Ventures
Audience: Higher Education Faculty and Students
Application Deadline: Proposals Accepted Year-round

NASA’s Centennial Challenges: Vascular Tissue Challenge
Audience: All Interested U.S. Citizens, Including Higher Education Educators and Students
Deadline: No Later Than Sept. 30, 2019

Infiniscope Launches First Digital Learning Experience — Where are the small worlds?
Audience: Pre-service, In-service, Home School, and Informal Educators of Grades 5-12

Create Art Inspired by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
Audience: All Educators and Students

Be a Citizen Earth Scientist With the ‘GLOBE Observer’ App
Audience: All Educators and Students

Searchable Portals for Federally Sponsored Opportunities for STEM Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Audience: Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Higher Education Institutions


Don’t miss out on upcoming NASA education opportunities.
For a full list of events, opportunities and more, visit the Educator and Student Current Opportunity pages on NASA’s website:
— Educators
— Students

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Lets Work Together When Applying for STEM Grants


The Westly Foundation is seeking entrepreneurial changemakers to apply for the Westly Prize for Young Innovators of California, which will award $25,000 cash prizes to innovators under age 28 with novel solutions to community challenges at home or around the world. Innovations must be prototyped and scaleable, and the innovators must live, work, or attend school in California, or have a residence in California but attend school elsewhere. Non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid ventures are eligible, provided they evidence a strong social mission. Students as young as high school are encouraged to apply. Applications are due October 15, 2017, and winners are selected following a Demo Day for finalists on January 20, 2018 in Silicon Valley. Learn more here.

Catherine Crystal Foster | Executive Director

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Turning Up the Heat on Mar’s Plans

Mars Society founder blasts NASA for ‘worst plan yet’

May 17

Robert Zubrin started the Mars Society nearly two decades ago with the dream of creating a human settlement on the Red Planet.

“The time has come for humanity to journey to Mars!” he announced one night in the summer of 1998, at the group’s founding convention in Boulder, Colo. He then read the society’s Founding Declaration: “We must go, not for us, but for the people who are yet to be. We must do it for the Martians.”

This reporter was there and filed a story for The Washington Post’s Style section. In the years since, Zubrin has continued to lobby for humans to go to Mars — though no one has managed to get beyond low Earth orbit since the last moon landing in 1972. Until recently, NASA branded virtually everything it was doing as part of a “Journey to Mars,” and Mars remains the horizon goal. The destination was even mandated in a recent congressional authorization act for NASA that was signed by President Trump.

In the meantime, NASA has more modest plans — and these plans don’t please Zubrin, for one.

NASA wants to put a “spaceport” in orbit around the moon. It would be a habitat for astronauts on long-duration missions. You could call it a “space station” if you wanted, though it wouldn’t be nearly as big as the one that’s circling the Earth right now. NASA refers to it as the Deep Space Gateway and describes it as “a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit.

This is NASA’s next big human spaceflight project, which is supposed to materialize in the mid-2020s. Astronauts would live in the spaceport for as much as a year at a time.

The agency’s stated goal is to test the systems necessary for a human mission to Mars. Any Mars mission would take something on the order of 2½ years round-trip, with seven or eight months in transit each way. On a Mars mission, there’s no turning around halfway. The crew can’t be resupplied. The life support system can’t be swapped out when something goes wrong. There are no pit stops — no oases in interplanetary space where one could pause to slake one’s thirst.

So NASA wants to do what effectively would be a trial run, only at a point in space just three days away by rocket transport (as opposed to the International Space Station, which is more like three hours away).

The NASA lunar spaceport plan has the redeeming feature of being technologically doable in the near term under plausible budgets. But it’s also a far more modest goal than sending humans to Mars.

Zubrin, for one, thinks it’s a terrible idea.

NASA’s Worst Plan Yet” blares the headline in National Review over Zubrin’s byline. He opens with a reference to the now-defunct, “absurd” Asteroid Redirect Mission developed by NASA under President Barack Obama (The Washington Post described it as “NASA’s Mission Improbable.”) Then Zubrin writes: “Amazingly, the space agency has managed to come up with an even dumber idea.”

Zubrin considers the lunar spaceport a waste of money — an idea designed merely as a way to give the new Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule somewhere to go.

We caught up with Zubrin on Tuesday at the Newseum, where he participated in a forum sponsored by the Atlantic titled “On the Launchpad: Return to Deep Space.” (Among others speaking at the forum were Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan.)

“What we have right now is just drift — it’s not a program,” Zubrin told the forum. He said the lunar spaceport is not needed to go to Mars or even to the surface of the moon. It’s just a way to spend money, he said: “There is not a plan. This is random activity.”

After the presentations, Zubrin gave The Post some additional thoughts on what he perceives as NASA’s failure to come up with a bold and coherent plan. He said that in the long history of NASA studies on the future of human spaceflight — and there is a long list of these lengthy reports — no one ever suggested that an orbital lunar outpost was a necessary part of an exploration program. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is the agency’s recent announcement that the first, uncrewed flight of the Space Launch System rocket will be delayed again, to 2019: “The tragedy of SLS is not that it is being delayed. The tragedy is that it doesn’t matter that it’s being delayed, because there’s nothing for it to launch anyway.”

John Logsdon, professor emeritus of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, weighed in on Zubrin’s comments.

“Robert has always lived in a parallel universe of what ought to be rather than what is,” Logsdon said gently as Zubrin stood beside him.

We asked Logsdon why NASA is building this spaceport in lunar orbit.

“It’s a sneaky way to go back to the moon,” he said.

Zubrin chimed in, “If you want to go back to the moon, go back to the moon!”

The backstory here is that President George W. Bush had a back-to-the-moon program, called Constellation. Obama killed it. Two of the three big elements of that program — a heavy-lift rocket and a new crew capsule — were preserved by powerful members of the Senate. The result is that NASA is spending billions of dollars on hardware to put astronauts in the vicinity of the moon, but there’s no way to get them down to the surface. If an international partner offered up the money for a lander, NASA presumably could put astronauts back on the moon.

Mary Lynne Dittmar, who advocates on behalf of the aerospace industry as head of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, defended the NASA plans on stage, and then again in an interview with The Post. We asked her about Logsdon’s suggestion that NASA’s lunar spaceport is really a way to get humans back on the moon.

“It’s not sneaky,” she said, and pointed us to a NASA request for proposals for ways to deliver cargo to and from the lunar surface. She said the Deep Space Gateway makes sense: “Think of the ISS as the first foothold. This is the second foothold.”

Everyone agrees that Mars is the horizon goal. But Mars is hard. The moon is close, cosmically speaking. We are already seeing a shift toward “commercial” spaceflight, so it could be that the first people on Mars will arrive in spaceships with private company logos and participating in a reality TV show. (Crazier things have happened!) Elon Musk really wants to go to Mars with SpaceX, and his drive and ambition are not to be discounted. Jeffrey P. Bezos (disclosure: he owns The Washington Post) has invested much of his fortune in the rocket company Blue Origin, and he repeatedly has said he wants lots of people doing lots of things in space.

So where will NASA be in, say, 2027?

Logsdon said, “Humans will be back on the moon.”

Zubrin agreed: “I think that’s possible actually — if you’re asking me what is likely, rather than what I’d like.”

Read more:

With Trump, Gingrich and GOP calling the shots, NASA may return to the moon

Our series of stories in 2013 for the project “Destination Unknown”

Trump wants to send astronauts to Mars pronto