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Sol Journal – November 21st

November 21, 2016

A Martian artist

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of our special crew member – Annalea Beattie. Why special? Not every day you can meet an artist on Mars! Very energetic, curious and open to the world – my first impression of her.  

Annalea was born in Tasmania, Australia. Raised at the farm, where life dictates tough rules, which allow her to gain an immune system for harsh environment. At the same time, it helped Annalea to see the beauty of nature and built up connection with it. As many of us may experienced, first we try different professions, travel the world and only then realize what we love and want to do for the rest of the life. The same happened to Annalea – teaching at primary school, travel around the world and living at Hungary, Japan and India. Only after she understood that an art is what makes her happy. She got a Master’s degree in art at Melbourne University and started new chapter in life.

Annalea always looked at the art through extreme environment and the survival skills for life. Where are the most extremes and survival every day? The space! She understood the importance of cooperation with space and science professionals. Trying to combine science and art in her work, Annalea joined the Mars Society Australia to participate in space activities and get deeper into this field. There were several projects. Drawing the impact craters by simulating the crater with gunshots. Drawing the comets, after watching NASA videos of spinning and tumbling Eros and Ithica. And a half year ago Annalea came up with an idea of testing the value of field drawing in the space suit, which will help us understand the biological and geological context. Her first attempt was in the Northern India at Ladakh drawing the Puga hot springs.

In Mars 160 mission Annalea submitted around 10 field drawing experiments, which are: drawing in the space suit, drawing in the pressurized vehicle, comparison drawing suited and unsuited, drawing the sampling sites by following the scientists, drawing in spacesuit within time constraints, drawing in the spacesuit lichens using magnifier glass and hand lens, drawing the scientific methods, such as hypolith quadrats. She also tested the blind data experiment, it is when the drawings were given to our geologist to analyze and detect what geological features he sees. The fluvial patterns of sand was an answer from Jon Clarke, which is what Annalea portrayed.

What is the procedure of field drawing? Arrive to the location, put the scale in, mark up the constraints of the landscape and draw the site of the investigation. It can be lichens, hypoliths, hot springs, river beds, fluvial channels.    

By the time Annalea finishes this simulation, she will be the only artist who spend around 30 hours in total drawing in the space suit! This experience will help her to analyze the relevance of field drawing for the for planetary field science. Although she is already certain that the skill of field drawing will improve the collected science data and give better understanding of geological context. Instead of taking the pictures, the drawings will help to remember the landscape in richer details. Annalea’s work at Mars Desert Research Station is important to understand if those techniques will be useful on Mars. Apart from it, she is talented writer, who gives to the world an inside look of our life on Mars in weekly articles at

“When we prepare to go to Mars, we need science and engineering, but when we settle on the red planet, we would need different professions, including an artist. Why? Because art builds reach cultures beyond survival, connects people, gives freedom and light in the darkness. It gives us an opportunity to fail in the field, where usually there are no possibilities to fail. Space does not forget mistakes, but art gives us a safe space to fail” – says our dearest crew artist Annalea Beattie.