Several space agencies and exploration stakeholders have a strong interest in obtaining information on technical and human aspects to prepare for future extra-terrestrial planetary exploration. In this context, the EuroGeoMars campaign, organized with support from the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), the European Space Agency (ESA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center and partner institutes, was conducted by the crews 76 and 77 in February 2009 in The Mars Society's ‘Mars Desert Research Station’ (MDRS) in Utah.
The EuroGeoMars encompasses two groups of experiments: (1) a series of field science experiments that can be conducted from an extra-terrestrial planetary surface in geology, biology, astronomy/astrophysics and the necessary technology and networks to support these field investigations; (2) a series of human crew-related investigations on crew time organization in a planetary habitat, on the different functions and interfaces of this habitat, and on man–machine interfaces of science and technical equipment.
This paper recalls the objective of the EuroGeoMars project and presents the MDRS and its habitat layout. Social and operational aspects during simulations are described. Technical and operational aspects of biology investigations in the field and in the habitat laboratory are discussed in detail with the focus point set on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection of microbial DNA in soil samples.