My next adventure takes me to the Southern Hemisphere- To Chile, where the Patagonia and Andes meet, to one of the most inhospitable landscapes found on this planet- the Atacama desert.
Save for the dry valleys of Antarctica, no other places on Earth replicates the surface of Mars like the Atacama. High on the altiplano (high plane) and puna (windswept tableland) plateaus of Northern Chile, the Atacama resists life. Rainfall is exceedingly rare (some sites have never received a drop in the historical era), plantlife struggles in the volcanic ash and salt pans, and there are localized conditions that keep even bacteria at bay. If one wishes to study what the Martian environment might exhibit, this is the place.
I will be taking part in an expedition led by Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj, a geologist and founder of Science in the Wild, an investigative research outfitter. She is also a fellow commercial suborbital candidate from Project PoSSUM as well a veteran of NASA’s HERA analog simulation. She has assembled a team of adventurers: scientists, climbers, photographers, (and myself) to accomplish this task. So I travel now to join her team and take part.
I will not be able to share the entirety of this endeavor in real-time because of the remoteness, but I will be keeping a journal of the expedition and will post about it following our return. For updates, follow Science in the Wild on Facebook. I will use the hashtag #MarsOnEarth in my social media.