Boldly Going Where No BNLer Has Gone Before

Former Brookhaven Lab employee to participate in simulated Mars mission in the Arctic Circle

Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station

The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island at the 75th parallel in the Canadian Arctic.

Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime! Later this week, former Brookhaven Lab employee Kristine Ferrone will journey to Devon Island in the Arctic Circle where she will simulate being a Mars-exploring astronaut for nearly one month.

Ferrone worked in Brookhaven Lab’s Collider-Accelerator Department both in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider’s control room and NASA Space Radiation Lab (NSRL) from 2004 until 2006. While at NSRL, Ferrone researched new techniques to detect, measure, and analyze conditions that simulate the space radiation that astronauts are exposed to outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.


FMARS crew member Joe Palaia tests out his spacesuit in warmer weather.

On July 2, Ferrone will arrive at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island at the 75th parallel in Northern Canada. The largest uninhabited island on Earth, Devon Island is a cold, rocky desert with many geological features that are similar to Mars. FMARS is operated by the Mars Society, a nonprofit organization that works to further the goal of exploring and settling Mars. The Mars Society maintains several stations around the world and has already hosted six missions at FMARS since 2002.

“I’ve been a city girl most of my life,” explained Ferrone, who currently works as a flight controller for the International Space Station with United Space Alliance in Houston, Texas. “We will be in an extremely isolated area with limited equipment and time — and I can’t wait!” she added.

Throughout the month, Ferrone and her five crewmembers will conduct several experiments while wearing full space suits, avoiding the polar bears (no kidding), and exploring the island and its 20-kilometer-wide Haughton Crater. “The dirt, dust, compounds, and fossils left after a meteor hit there millions of years ago make the ground similar to Mars,” explained Ferrone. “And with 24 hours of daylight almost all of July, this will be a great place to practice.”

Kristene Ferrone and her advisor with the new laser masseuse device

FMARS crew member and former BNLer Kristene Ferrone (right) and her advisor with the new laser masseuse device that will be used during the mission.

Ferrone’s primary experiment should provide a bit of relief for her crewmembers throughout the mission. With a nearly completed Master’s Degree in sports medicine, Ferrone will “massage” her fellow “astronauts” using a new portable, low-power laser to prevent and reduce muscle soreness and stress injuries before and after each space walk.

Other mission experiments will include using an unmanned aerial vehicle and infrared light to locate and map naturally occurring geothermal pipes below the surface of the impact crater and searching for fossils and living bacteria that have adapted to the extreme weather conditions of the Canadian Arctic.

After the mission is completed at the end of July, Ferrone and several other FMARS crewmembers will head directly to the Mars Society’s 12th annual International Mars Society Convention in Maryland to discuss some of their results and findings.

For more information on the Mars Society and the FMARS mission, go to: And if you want to stay up-to-date with the former BNLer’s adventures on Devon Island, keep up with Ferrone on Twitter.

Good luck Kristine and crew!

FMARS crew members

From left, Mars Society President Robert Zubrin with FMARS crew members Vernon Kramer, Brian Shiro, and Stacy Cusack, Brian Enke (Mission Support), Kristine Ferrone, Joe Palaia, Christy Garvin.

Tags: NSRL

2009-1294  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom