Austrian glacier serves as study for future life on Mars

Austrian glacier serves as study for future life on Mars
Photo: Österreichisches Weltraum Forum/Flickr
A glacier in western Austria - known mostly for its surrounding ski slopes - has played an important role in making a manned mission to Mars a reality.

The Kaunertal Glacier in Tyrol was used as a field site to test a mission of human researchers on Mars. The AMADEE-15 mission, coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum and 19 partner nations, took place during August 2015.

A team of researchers performed selected experiments under realistic Martian surface conditions, aimed at helping future astronauts who may one day explore the Red Planet and perhaps even settle there. 

Glaciers can be ideal sites for simulated Mars missions due to their “astrobiological and mission architectural relevance,” according to Gernot Groemer, who wrote a report detailing the findings of the mission which was recently published in Acta Astronautica.

Glacier-like forms found on Mars are similar to some of Earth’s rock glaciers, and are a key area of study as they could be extremely important to any chance of future human life on Mars.

Glaciers are a source of water and ice, which are both vital for humans and a possible habitat for other life-forms.