The Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) is an international, multi-disciplinary, science and exploration effort to explain the origin of freshwater microbialites [link] in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Fossil microbialites represent some of the earliest remnants of life on ancient Earth, and were common from ~2.5 billion to 540 million years ago. Today, microbialites are found in what have been deemed ‘extreme’ environments. However, the microbialites in Pavilion Lake have provided a new environment for the scientific community to study that demonstrates that large, and uniquely shaped structures can also occur in non-extreme environments that also supports a complex and thriving ecosystem. *The PLRP activities integrate real science and exploration field activities in a hostile environment, hence the challenges associated with the research are analogous to those we will encounter on the Moon and Mars. As such, the field program is also providing scientific, operational and technical learning relevant to future human planetary exploration.