The state of Israel is one of the world’s leaders in the field of general space sciences, however in the area of human space exploration, the country still lags behind a number of space-faring nations. The new D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station) project intends to change this in a substantial way. Located in the Mitzpe Ramon area of Israel’s Negev Desert, D-MARS is a unique scientific enterprise that establishes an international planetary research analog center in the southern part of the country.
The primary goal of the D-MARS effort is to promote space-related science and technology in Israel through the creation of analog infrastructure for academic research and technological development. The station will also serve as an important resource for STEM-driven educational programs.
Currently, there are a handful of similar research centers around the world. The D-MARS project is expected to place the Israel in the forefront of contributing to human space exploration and planning. In addition, the Negev-based station is unique in that it does not harm the desert micro-environment, while allowing access to a wide range of participants, both local and international. Also the terrain of the Makhtesh Ramon crater, where the facility is situated, holds many similarities to the actual Martian environment in terms of geology, aridity and isolation.
D-MARS will simulate a mission to Mars or other planets, allowing analog astronauts (or “Ramonauts”) to live on-site as real explorers; the daily routine, food, communication and other challenges will be very similar to those faced in the future during an actual planetary mission.
Establishing the D-MARS space analog mission in the Negev Desert will allow Israel to make a significant contribution to the world-wide effort to prepare humanity for the exploration of the planet Mars and our solar system, while also benefiting the economy, technology development and educational community of the state of Israel as a whole.