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Volunteers needed for Mars expedition

Mars Society members hope their Arctic ventures will lead to manned trips to this distant outpost.
Mars Society members hope their Arctic ventures will lead to manned trips to this distant outpost.  

By Richard Stenger

(CNN) -- Hard work. No Pay. Eternal glory. Those are the promises of the Mars Society to those dedicating themselves to build and man a research camp on a cold, desolate and barren landscape.

The destination is Mars, in a manner of speaking. The red planet group hopes to enlist volunteers for its upcoming expedition to a remote Arctic island that boasts extreme conditions resembling those on Mars.

The mission, which will simulate a manned trip to Mars, will take place between June and August on Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world.

Except for the summer. In recent years, the red planeteers have set up increasingly complex camps during the hot season on the island, a rocky, windy outpost where polar bears outnumber the human population.

They join an army of geological and biological researchers from NASA, who since 1997 have made the annual pilgrimage to the polar desert, poking and digging in the nearly lifeless volcanic rocks for exotic life forms that might have cousins on Mars.

"Dedication to the cause of human Mars exploration is an absolute must, as conditions are likely to be tough and the job will be very trying," the Mars Society cautioned in an online appeal for recruits.

The international group of red planet enthusiasts said it would consider both volunteer investigators with specific research programs as well as others wishing to donate their muscle power.

Applicants must be in good physical condition and between 18 and 60 years of age. Scientific, engineering and wilderness experience are considered a plus as well as "literary skills."

Time can pass slowly on Devon Island during the summer, when the sun hardly dips below the horizon for months.

But for those dedicated enough to want to go and lucky enough to be selected, the Mars Society will pay all training, travel and living expenses for the expedition.

Those interested should check out the group's Web site at for more information on how to apply. But hurry. The deadline is November 30.


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