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Volume 68, Wednesday, August 6, 2003


UH Ph.D. student studies red planet

Cougar News Services

Some students may have had adolescent dreams of becoming an astronaut or taking trips to outer space, but for one UH doctoral student, the dream may just come true.

Fathi Karouia, a molecular and cellular biology Ph.D. candidate, participates in simulated Mars missions in Utah as part of Mars Expedition One, a project sponsored by Mars Societies Canada and Australia to prepare for future missions to the red planet.

"There are currently two mobile research stations: one in Utah and the other in northern Canada," Karouia said. "The Utah site was chosen because the surroundings are analogous to those that can be found on Mars ­ rocky with canyons, gravel, sand ­ even red soil. Plus, the desert is favorable for testing equipment."

The crew, including various scientists and medical engineers, use prototype design mock-ups of space-suits, rover vehicles and laboratories to explore the simulated red planet.

"We were not the first team to go on this type of mission, but we were the first to stay one month; to have a very large crew of 13 to 14; to test two space suit designs; and the first to test three prototypes of Mars rovers," Karouia said.

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