By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsDecember 9, 2014
MARS DESERT RESEARCH STATION, Utah (Dec. 9, 2014) -- A U.S. Army 1st lieutenant is competing to spend a year on a Canadian Island with the Mars Arctic 365 program.
At the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, 1st Lt. Heidi Beemer is taking part in a Mars simulation this month.
Beemer is a decontamination platoon leader from the 63rd Chemical Company, 83rd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade, 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), the U.S. Department of Defense's only formation that combats CBRNE threats around the world.
Beemer, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, said three teams are competing to be the first crew to spend one year in an analog Martian simulation at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island, Canada.
The program is run by the Mars Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to human Martian exploration research.
A Chemical Corps officer from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Beemer is not only striving to take part in the Mars Arctic 365 program but she is also in the running for a one-way ticket to Mars as a part of the Mars One selection process.
The Mars One selection process, run by a different non-profit organization, has more than 705 applicants from 99 countries competing to colonize Mars.
Beemer said the Mars One competition will narrow the field of applicants down to the final 24 Martian colonists.
The journey to Mars will take around seven months and the colonists will travel in groups of four, with new groups arriving every two years. Once on Mars, they will occupy living pods.
Robots will build the living pods and produce the oxygen and water necessary for the first colonists. Each additional group will bring more supplies. Beemer said the selectees for both programs should be announced next year.
At the Mars Desert Research Station, Beemer is training with an international crew that has members from the U.S., Finland, Japan, the United Kingdom and Brazil.
Located in the San Rafel Swell in Hanksville, Utah, the Mars Desert Research Station is two and a half hours west of Grand Junction, Colorado.
"It is a near perfect analog site for Mars and looks a lot like it should," said Beemer, a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia. "It's amazing to wake up to these views out the window every morning."
According to 20th CBRNE Commanding General Brig. Gen. JB Burton, Beemer personifies the pioneer spirit.
"Lieutenant Beemer seeks to boldly go where no one has gone before," said Burton, who has a Beemer2Mars sticker on his jeep. "We are proud that she is a part of this command."