Mars Institute "Moon-1" Humvee Rover Successfully Completes 500 km Drive Along Northwest Passage
PRESS RELEASE: Mountain View, CA and Vancouver, BC, 24 April 2009 - An international team of researchers led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee successfully reached the arctic community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada on Friday, 17 April, after an 8-day, 500 km vehicular trek on sea-ice along the fabled Northwest Passage. The team of five departed Kugluktuk, Nunavut on 10 April aboard the Mars Institute’s Moon-1 Humvee Rover and two snowmobiles, and logged a record-breaking total of 494 km, the longest distance ever driven on sea-ice in a road vehicle.
The expedition is an integral part of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) on Devon Island, High Arctic, where research in space science and exploration is being conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Mars Institute, the SETI Institute, and other partnering organizations. The primary goal of the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition was to transport the Mars Institute’s new Moon-1 Humvee Rover from Kugluktuk to Devon Island. The rover serves as a concept vehicle simulating future pressurized rovers to be used by humans on the Moon and Mars.
During their traverse from Kugluktuk to Cambridge Bay, the field team encountered challenging weather and ice surface conditions, including a 40-hour whiteout, unseasonably thick snow cover, massive rough ice, and treacherous snow-covered leads (open cracks in the sea-ice exposing liquid seawater). At one point, the rear of the Moon-1 sank into one such hidden lead, but the vehicle was saved by the team’s immediate actions and thanks to the Humvee’s unique capabilities and equipment. “For a moment there, I thought this might be it, but we had come prepared and trained, and our rover is an incredible machine” says Lee.
Because of the unusual amount of late snow covering the region this year which prevents efficient progress on sea-ice and dangerously obscures open leads, the Mars Institute has decided to pause the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition in Cambridge Bay and is now seeking to airlift the Moon-1 Humvee Rover the rest of the way to Resolute Bay. Once in Resolute, the driving expedition will resume in order to transfer the rover from Cornwallis Island to Devon Island, where it will be used for lunar exploration research for NASA at the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station this coming Summer and beyond.