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Mars on Earth

The complex terrain of Wingate, Navajo Sandstone, Mancos Shale, Morrison and Chinle formations that surround Hanksville, has attracted the attention of the Mars Society, which believes it to be a good candidate for an imitation of the red planet.

While the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) does not take visitors, their presence here shows how similar Hanksville's surrounding terrain and climate can be to the Red Planet. If you're looking to explore the wonders of Mars, but can't wait for the advancements in technology needed to get there, explore the surrounding areas of Hanksville. With the bentonite hills, sand dunes, rocky outcrops, unique geological phenomenon, and desolation you'll feel like you're on another planet. 


This area has served as the film set for several movies set in space, most notably Galaxy Quest (1999), Star Trek (2009), John Carter (2012) and The Space Between Us (2017). As you can see, the area surrounding Hanksville bears an uncanny resemblance to the red planet, making it the perfect place to film movies set on Mars. So next time you're looking for a place to explore that feels out of this world, head to Hanksville.

Mars Society

The Mars Desert Research Station, is owned and operated by the Mars Society. This facility is located just West of Hanksville and acts as a space analog facility that supports Earth-based research in the pursuit of the technology, operations, and science required for human space exploration.

The Mars Desert Research Station does not allow visitors or offer tours. 

 It is a research station so please be respectful and do not drive near this site. It is a point of interest only.

You may drive past the station via Cow Dung Road, and you are welcome to park where permitted and look at the facility from that location. While the MDRS is not open to the public, you can explore the surrounding areas that are so similar to Mars!

University Rover Challenge

The University Rover Challenge (URC) is the world's premier robotics competition for college students. Every year, in the desert just outside Hanksville, the URC challenges student teams to build and program the next generation of Mars rovers that will one day work alongside astronauts on Mars. For more information on the University Rover Challenge, visit their website here.

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