Mars500 volunters about to ‘land’ on Mars

After eight months locked away in a 20m x 4m hermetically sealed module, and your only contact with loved ones is by timed delay calls you’d think these guys would be pulling their hair out. But apparently they are still getting on very well – Deskarati

A group of volunteers will reach a key stage in an unprecedented one-and-a-half year virtual interplanetary flight experiment to study the effects of a mission to Mars when they ‘land’ on the Red Planet’s surface.

Three of the six volunteers in the Mars500 experiment will ‘touch down’ after 244 days of virtual flight before moving out of their lander for a first ‘space walk’ on the Martian surface – all without leaving a Moscow research centre.

“Mars500 is a visionary experiment,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, European Space Agency (ESA) director for human spaceflight. “Europe is getting ready to make a step further in space exploration: our technology and our science grow stronger every day. Mars500 today is only an enriching simulation, but we are working to make it real.”

The landing marks the approximate halfway point for the experiment in which the participants must spend 520 days in isolation from the world to test how humans would respond to the pressures of the long voyage to Mars.

The first steps on Mars of the three volunteers from Italy, Russia and China will be relayed to the flight control centre that monitors real space missions, as part of an experiment organised by the EPA in Paris and Moscow’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP).

A team of six men from Europe, Russia and China, has been locked since June in a mock-up spaceship to test the psychological effects of an 18-month round trip in the experiment.

Read more here COSMOS magazine.

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