Indexed on: 29 Apr '14Published on: 29 Apr '14Published in: Astrobiology
On future human Mars missions, surface sojourn duration and resources will be limited. One possibility to approach a positive cost-benefit ratio of a human Mars mission will be to maximize the scientific research on the martian surface within the operational, environmental, and experimental limitations. Sophisticated mission operations and advanced planning strategies will be a basic requirement for Mars exploration and make operational methods an important research subject during current Mars analog missions conducted by the Austrian Space Forum. The Morocco Mars analog field simulation MARS2013, with a duration of 4 weeks and a simulated time delay of 10 min for communication between field and mission support, was the most advanced Mars analog mission conducted by the Austrian Space Forum so far. Due to these constraints, planning strategies based on real-time adjustments and ground control were not applicable, leading to the development of the "3-days-in-advance" planning strategy. Applying this methodology, 45.7% of the total EVA time was used for scientific experiments that satisfied 75.8% of the planned science goals. Taking into account all activities (donning of the suits included), the fraction of time used for scientific experiments made up only one-third of the total time, whereas it was planned to be above 50%. Here, we present details on the application of the 3-days-in-advance planning and on the results of the efficiency analysis of MARS2013.