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Rocket man hits Iqaluit

Hosts public presentation on Devon Island Mars project

Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 05/01) - The American scientist heading up a Martian experiment in the High Arctic splashed down in Iqaluit Tuesday night.

Haughton-Mars Project chief Pascal Lee was in the capital en route to Grise Fiord. He held a public meeting and slide show at the visitors' centre.

Lee said he expects that within five years U.S. President George Bush will announce plans for an Apollo-like mission to Mars.

Sooner or later, he said, "there is a very exciting adventure to be had."

Scientists with NASA, in conjunction with the privately funded Mars Society, have spent the last four years using a 23-million-year-old crater on Devon Island to study how humans might live on Mars.

According to Lee, the Haughton crater is the "most Mars-like" place on planet Earth. "When we come to Devon Island, we are one step closer to Mars," he said.

The Mars project recently hit a snag when it was discovered that much of the crater rests on Inuit-owned land.

The Haughton-Mars base camp is established close by on commissioner's land, but without a land-use agreement, project members' ability to move around without encroaching on Inuit land is limited.

Lee said the land-use issue had been, "blown out of proportion ... it was a clerical error that wasn't our fault."

Lee was going to Grise Fiord to negotiate a land-use agreement with the hamlet. "We're hopeful that we'll find a resolution," he said.