Mars on Earth: Simulation tests in remote desert of Oman

DHOFAR DESERT, Oman (AP) — The desolate desert in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, resembles Mars so much that more than 200 scientists from 25 nations have chosen it as their location for the next four weeks, to field-test technology for a manned mission to Mars.

Analog astronaut Kartik Kumar says the successful launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket this week “puts us in a completely different realm of what we can put into deep space, what we can send to Mars.”

Seen from space, the Dhofar Desert is a flat, brown expanse. Few animals or plants survive its temperatures that can top 125 degrees Fahrenheit, or 51 degrees Celsius.

The Oman Mars Base is a giant 2.4-ton inflated habitat surrounded by shipping containers turned into labs and crew quarters.