KiwiMars 2012 Expedition to Mars Desert Research Station

(A Project of KiwiSpace Foundation New Zealand)

Mission Statement:

"Inspire science citizens for the 21st century!"


"Through engagement in KiwiMars 2012, New Zealand school students(and their teachers) have a major opportunity to better understand Earth's place in the Universe, the principles behind the next stage of humankind's exploratory endeavours (space) and an appreciation of treating all worlds with sensitivity and understanding."


Commander Summary Report

KiwiMars 2012 is a science outreach exercise. A pilot for New Zealand, the expedition used all media and online tools available to inspire students and public to revisit sciences using space as a hook. Collectively, the objectives of the KiwiMars 2012 project were to:

  • Deliver an engaging science learning experience;
  • Establish a space science educator network;
  • Develop and refine methods for effective tele-education and outreach;
  • Educate the public about the importance of space science missions;
  • Foster international science and education connections and generate future opportunities for New Zealand partnerships.

KiwiMars team identified a few niche opportunities within the New Zealand educational system where our project could intervene:

  • to increase student engagement in science,
  • to support the new Earth and Space Science Curriculum,
  • be a learning precursor for the Mars Science Laboratory and
  • create space education resources for our local audience in New Zealand.


KiwiMars 2012 Expedition Crew:

Haritina Mogosanu - Commander

Mike Bodnar - First Officer /Journalist

Bruce Ngataierua - Health and Safety Officer

Ali Harley - Mission Specialist Planetary Sciences

Annalea Beattie - Mission Specialist Life Sciences

Don Stewart - Flight Engineer


Great additions to our crew were the team members from Mars Society Australia, Annalea and Don, who gave an unexpected artistic flavour to our project. Their contribution to the success of the expedition is acknowledged here as being very enriching.

All science experiments were designed so that they can be performed by KiwiMars crew members in the Utah, replicated in New Zealand by schools and for each of them there was an analogue comparison to Mars.

During the rotation (21 April - 5 May 2012) in New Zealand, Carter Observatory took the role of Mission Control and hosted every day session from 10 AM to 5 PM. Schools and public had the chance to interact live with the crew on Mars via life chat. Everyone on Earth had the chance to follow every EVA and experiment via our interactive Mission Support site  The site, a collective effort of a team of dedicated people was our communication portal with Earth.

Our two weeks rotation stay at the Mars Desert Research Station benefited from rigorous planning and from the outstanding support received from our project team. The objectives of the outreach mission as well as collecting data for creating school resources have been accomplished. We will be shifting to phase two once we return to New Zealand and that is to compile the information and create the school resources as well as continue the outreach visiting schools and networking.



We would like to express our special thanks to Dr. Jonathan Clarke (Mars Society Australia) and Jon Rask (NASA AMES) who gave their time generously providing guidance, training and advice.

Also special thanks to Mark Mackay of KiwiSpace Foundation who was our true Mission Support in New Zealand, guiding us through all hurdles and challenges of having a successful live mission interaction with the audience.

Elf Eldridge (Flight Director during Operation Antipodes) and the MacDiarmid Institute 

Jenny Pollock (NZASE), John Dow (Agenda-Marketing), Jessie Mackenzie (RSNZ), Gordon Hudson, Susan Weekes (FutureIntech), Quentin Richards, Tony Amar, Alana Corney, Alysia Barnes, Melanie Newfield, Catherine Duthie, Christine Reed, Deirdre Haines, Stephen Bell (MPI), Trish Merz, Scott Campbell, Claire Thurlow, Graeme Henderson (Eagle Technologies), Joe Harawera (DOC), Te Huirangi Waikerepuru, Te Urutahi Waikerepuru (Taranaki), Toa Waaka (Ahikaa), David Tatham (Flagmakers), Joanna Rix (DomPost), Chris Monigatti (Tawa College), Jeremy Slezak, Dana Deree, Shauna Mendez (US Embassy to New Zealand), David Napier (NZAM), Sarah Rusholme, Claire Bretherthon, Dawn Muir (Mission Control - Carter Observatory) and Stephen Aitkens (Capital E)


Individual Crew Members reports follow:

First Officer and Journalist Summary Report

Six relative strangers, two weeks together in confined living quarters, wearing spacesuits outside, rationing water usage, and eating dehydrated and freeze-dried food, all in a remote desert environment. What documentary maker or blogger could ask for anything more?

In the two weeks I have shared this unique experience I have shot more than five hours of video footage and written daily blogs. That in itself makes Mission 118 a success for me, but there is a lot more work to be done. The documentary (possibly two) needs to be edited.  There are articles to be written for magazines and newspapers, and hopefully contributions to educational resources. The mission is ending, the journey has just begun.


HSO Summary Report

The research I wanted to conduct in coming to MDRS for the KiwiMars 2012 mission is education focused. It was my intention to help develop student awareness and resource development in the Space Sciences in N.Z. I wanted students and teachers to grab a hold (and fire their imaginations) and start thinking about the possibilities of a real mission to Mars in the near future.

This was accomplished firstly by the daily dialogue online between myself and the students as they asked questions about our mission either online or through mission control at Carter Observatory. The other goal of developing resources that can be of use to the N.Z Science curriculum in Earth and Space Sciences is ongoing but has begun at MDRS with more work to go into this as I return to N.Z.

MSP Summary Report


Completed planned

Not completed planned

Completed unplanned


Cow Dung Road Cattle Grid, North Caineville Mesa, Factory Butte, Kissing Camel Ridge, Southern Skyline Rim, Muddy Creek, Lith Canyon, Hab Ridge, Phobos Peak

North Pinto Hills, Coal Mine Wash Road

Olympus Mons, Bob's Rock Garden (plain on south side of KCR), Brahe Highway, Henry Mountains

Reporting to NZ Mission Support

Daily EVA report, blog, images




EVA geology photography (for Mars/Utah/New Zealand comparison)

360 interactive pano's outside Hab (equipment failure)

360 interactive pano's inside Hab (upper level, lower level, bunk room)

Samples collected (for Mars/Utah/New Zealand comparison)

concretions, gravel, fossilized wood, marine shell


amber chips

Reporting to Mars Society

EVA report, Food Survey Report




Flight Engineer and Weather Observer Report

Role and activities of Flight Engineer

In addition to general flight engineer support duties I used my time on the mission to test a low environmental impact low technology water harvesting device and to collect local surface meteorological data via a portable home weather station. I also tested the potting potential of local clays by making two clay fruit bowls and allowing them to dry naturally and (unfortunately) shrinkage rate and cracking potential after each bowl broke into several pieces. I also sought to determine local water drainage patterns in the vicinity of the Hab and the surrounding area. 

The water harvesting device experiment was developed in response to the fact that Martian soil contains frozen water. This experiment was undertaken to assess the water harvesting potential of a very simple water collection device similar to that used in emergency desert survival situations and to demonstrate change of state principles to school students. Shallow dishes of water were placed in a shallow depression covered with a 1 metre square approx plastic sheet weighed down in the centre with a stone to create a condensation drip point water collector. 

Unfortunately, evaporation of water from the evaporation dishes was minimal and the equipment did not collect any evaporated water. Possible factors contributing to the lack of success of the experiment include: minimal or no evaporation from the evaporation pans, overnight dew points well below overnight minimum temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Celsius most nights, physical design of the unit and very dry soil.

The met. data was collected to generate a general overview of local weather during mission 118, some of which was also integral to the evaporation device experiment. The met. data in conjunction with an existing temperature sensor upstairs showed difference in temperature between upstairs and downstairs and outside the Hab. and also seasonal temperatures, wind speed and direction, humidity, dew points, barometric pressure date etc. While limited, the data provide some indication of the insulative properties of the Hab. during hot weather experienced in the early stages of the mission. The data, collected over ten days, will be forward to the Mars Society for information. 

I also sought to determine surface water drainage patters around the Hab and elsewhere on Hab. plan. Surface water drainage on Hab plain appears to occur via two major drainage points. One drains Olympus Mons and the surrounding area via Chandor Chasma while the other appears to take water away in the direction of the main access track to the Hab. from the main road. Each catchment constitutes approximately 50 per cent of Hab. plain.

General engineering duties included monitoring supply of potable water, ATV fuel and other general duties and providing support to other crew members on EVAs and at the Hab.


Mission Specialist Life Sciences Summary Report

My role as specialist life scientist has been necessarily broad, however in the two weeks here I have had the opportunity to trial ideas and think deeply about the nature of my research project which is an arts-based collaboration for astronauts, addressing sensory deprivation and isolation in deep space travel. It's been a great opportunity. I have been able to understand at first hand something about what it is to live in a confined space and I have immersed myself in the Utah's extreme environment, always thinking about the challenges of deep space. It seems there is little middle ground here at MDRS. My own art work has focused on the minutiae of daily life in the hab or its immensity outside the security of our temporary home. In my role as artist I have tried to encourage and support other crew members to explore and interpret their scientific data in different ways, to use their own working methods as a starting point for making art work, to understand art is about experiences as much as it is about making objects. I myself have learned much about the correlations between art and science and this opportunity will stand me in good stead. All the crew members have consented to participate in an exhibition on our return.


Miscellaneous Summary Report

White paper on the "Change in the community structure at MDRS as a result of human activity" - in progress

End of individual reports

Our gratitude and thanks go to Mission Support Mars Society who made sure we are safe in an alien environment and supported us throughout the mission! 

To the Mars Society and its president Dr. Robert Zubrin a very big and special thank you for giving us this extraordinary opportunity to be here.


Kia Kaha! 

MDRS Crew 118 - KiwiMars

Commander Haritina Mogosanu


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