Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on the planet, and it’s about as Mars-like as it gets. It’s home to the 14 mile-wide Haughton Crater, which is cold, dry, rocky and extremely isolated. Since 1997, Pascal Lee, planetary scientist at the Mars Institute and the SETI Institute, and director of the Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center, has led missions every summer from a small research station there to prepare people and design technologies for a trip to the Red Planet.
On the island, researchers have tested robots, spacesuits, drills and other tools that would aid future Mars explorers. It’s also a proving ground for would-be Mars colonists. Devon Island is isolated, the environment is brutal and the area is poorly mapped, which makes it the perfect place to get a taste of what might go wrong out there.