Mars Institute Island is a work in progress, just like the real-life Mars exploration project. The Second Life site is located at Mars Institute (127, 128, 27). It’s a good place to visit if you are in the mood to see a serious rendition of exploration of the Red Planet. Modular buildings are being constructed for study, lectures, work, and living. The Spartan buildings, with their tinted violet windows and airlock doors, have a genuine feel to them. A clear glass building is an auditorium. The barren, rocky terrain looks authentic, too.
According to its notecard, the Mars Institute was created to establish an independent nonprofit organization whose purpose is to advance the scientific study and exploration of Mars. They emphasize high quality, peer-reviewed research and share their knowledge and experiences of Mars exploration with students and the general public worldwide. The RL Mars Institute is found on the web at http://www.marsinstitute.info/ .
The Second Life site is owned by Kenji Aero, and many of the structures have been developed by Selenus Bracken. According to his profile, Selenus is a RL British scientist who is living in Canada. The real-life Mars Institute has been incorporated as a non-profit corporation in both the U.S. and Canada. It was founded by many scientists, including Marc Boucher, Charles Cockell, Pascal Lee, Stephen Braham and others.
This site has great potential, especially since NASA is planning to launch an exploration of Mars later this year. The RL landing on Mars is expected in August, 2012. A six-wheeled rover, Curiosity, will be used to explore and gather rocks. One can easily imagine a SL version of Curiosity.
The site next to the Mars Institute is the SEEDS Project, located at The SEEDS project, EDAKent (79, 216, 24). This site continues the space exploration theme, but its emphasis is on sustainable communities in space. The site has crops, a fish farm, duckweed and algae ponds, and a floating greenhouse.
Through the use of notecards and other devises, the site asks important questions about how people will be able to live and thrive in remote space stations. It raises social and psychological issues, as well as similarities and differences between space colonies and small communes.
Together, the Mars Institute and the SEEDS Project offer Second Life residents an informative and interesting way to learn about space exploration.