Preparing for a journey to Mars: Crew locked for 105 days in simulator

Mar 05, 2009
A bedroom inside the Mars500 facility at the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP). Credits: ESA

(PhysOrg.com) -- On 31 March, a crew of six, including a French pilot and a German engineer, will embark on a 105-day simulated Mars mission. They will enter a special facility at the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow, to emerge only three months later.

Their mission will help in understanding the psychological and medical aspects of long-duration spaceflight.

The crew of six includes two Europeans, Oliver Knickel, a mechanical engineer in the German army, and airline pilot Cyrille Fournier from France. The remaining four crewmembers are Russians. They are cosmonauts Oleg Artemyez and Sergei Ryazansky, Alexei Baranov, a doctor, and Alexei Shpakov, a sports physiologist.

For 105 days, the crew will live in a special isolation facility in Moscow where they will be put through a range of scenarios as if they really were travelling to the Red Planet - including a launch, the outward journey, arrival at Mars and, after an excursion to the surface, the long journey home.

Their tasks will be similar to those they would have on a real space mission. They will have to cope with simulated emergencies, maybe even real emergencies. Communication delays of as much as 20 minutes each way will not make life any easier.

The participants will be subjected to scientific experiments to assess the effect that isolation has on various psychological and physiological aspects.

The 105-day study precedes a full simulation of a mission to Mars, due to start later in 2009. This will see another six-member crew sealed in the same chamber to experience a complete 520-day Mars mission. Both studies are part of the Mars500 programme that is conducted by ESA and the Russian IBMP. The Directorate of Human Spaceflight undertakes Mars500 within its European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences (ELIPS) to prepare for future missions to the Moon and Mars.

Provided by ESA

Explore further: Why don't we search for different life?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Getting to the root of the problem in space

Sep 23, 2014

When we go to Mars, will astronauts be able to grow enough food there to maintain a healthy diet? Will they be able to produce food in NASA's Orion spacecraft on the year-long trip to Mars? How about growing ...

Moscow 'Mars mission' ends after 520 days

Nov 04, 2011

Six volunteers on Friday stepped out into the outside world after spending the last one-and-a-half-years locked away in an isolation module in Moscow to simulate the effects of a return trip to Mars.

One year in isolation

Jun 06, 2011

The six men in the Mars500 facility near Moscow have been in isolation now 365 days. The European crewmembers have been writing in their latest letters home about the highlights, monotonous life, team spirit ...

Half-time for the Mars500 mission

Mar 10, 2011

The Mars500 mission – a simulated mission to the red planet in which researchers from the Mainz University Medical Center in Germany are involved – has reached its half-way mark: After a 250-day ...

Recommended for you

Why don't we search for different life?

5 hours ago

If we really want to find life on other worlds, why do we keep looking for life based on carbon and water? Why don't we look for the stuff that's really different?

OSIRIS catches glimpse of Rosetta's shadow

6 hours ago

Several days after Rosetta's close flyby of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 14 February 2015, images taken on this day by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board, have now been downlinked to Earth. ...

Kamikaze comet loses its head

7 hours ago

Like coins, most comet have both heads and tails. Occasionally, during a close passage of the Sun, a comet's head will be greatly diminished yet still retain a classic cometary outline. Rarely are we left ...

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

Mar 02, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.