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Tourists a (major) problem at Mars analog site

Dr. Shannon Rupert is an ecologist and educator who has spent more than 20 years doing Mars analog research. She is the longtime director of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which is owned and operated by The Mars Society. MDRS hosts researchers who conduct their work while in a simulation, living as if they were on Mars. For more details about the MDRS program, please visit: mdrs.marssociety.org. Rupert contributed this article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

It’s early spring in the southern Utah desert. After a year-long shutdown in operations due to COVID, I’m back at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), where I serve as director, preparing to welcome two U.S.-based crews to the facility. After a particularly hard day of working on repairs to the water system, I’m awakened in the night by my dogs barking. I look out the small window of my bedroom, which is separated from the station by two hills, and I can see what appears to be bright light shining on one of the buildings. While I struggle to make sense of it, my dogs quiet down, so I drift back to sleep, thinking I hadn’t noticed the moon was full. 

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