Scientists Ready for Mars-500 Simulation

MOSCOW, March 23 (UPI) — The European Space Agency says a crew of six, including two Europeans, will soon begin a 520-day simulated mission to Mars in a special facility in Moscow.

The mockup includes an interplanetary spaceship, Mars lander and martian landscape. The ESA said the Mars500 experiment’s goal is to simulate a full mission to Mars and back as accurately as possible. The experiment is to begin this summer at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The crew will include two Europeans, three Russians and one Chinese participant.

The 520-day isolation test is the last and core part of the Mars500 experiment that began in 2007. The first phase in 2007 was a 14-day simulation that tested the facilities and operational procedures. The second phase in 2009 involved four Russian and two Europeans who were sealed in the facility for 105 days.

The Mars500 involves hermetically isolating the crew in confined space with limited consumables and communication only via the Internet, which will be occasionally disrupted, and with a 20-minute delay, such as that which would be experienced during a real Mars mission due to the distance between the spacecraft and Earth.

The crew will be monitored and their psychological and physical signs recorded.

ESA officials said the Mars500 mission might lack some of the glory and feeling of the real spaceflight, but the first humans to walk on Mars “will surely remember these pioneers.”

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