Engineering Student’s Mars Simulation Mission
University of Saskatchewan graduate student Doug Campbell, who dreams of a career in space, spent two weeks on a simulated “space mission” to Mars, deep in the Utah desert.
Campbell has been selected to join a two-year scientist-astronaut training program based in the United States that will help him prepare for venturing into outer space research, once space flight becomes more accessible.
Campbell’s mission simulation at the Mars Desert Research Station ranged from growing his own food to doing outdoor explorations in a spacesuit.
“The highlight of each day was putting on the simulation space suit and venturing outside to explore the Martian landscape,” Campbell says.
The station is owned by the Mars Society, which supports Earth-based research for human space exploration and has received funding from the Musk Foundation. The “full Mars” experience in the Utah desert tested Campbell and his four crew members on teamwork and on research and interpersonal skills in a stressful environment. A mix of Americans and Canadians, the crew included experts in health, geology and engineering.
“It was an incredible opportunity to learn and develop skills required for long-duration space travel,” Campbell says. “The experience of living in a small, enclosed space with four other people for two weeks required us all to get very good at communicating clearly and working together; skills that I have brought back to my career with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.”
Campbell invented and is currently testing a waterless dishwasher as a special part of his space simulation. His device holds promise for making astronauts’ lives easier when space travelling.
“It was a unique chance to solve a problem that we take for granted on Earth but would be an issue for astronauts on Mars.”
Campbell has three degrees, all from the University of Saskatchewan – a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering and a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering.
In addition to his Martian exploits, he has previously worked at Case New Holland, the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council and currently works with the Saskatchewan Health Authority as Director, Strategy and Innovation.