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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mars500 progressing well

You may recall that the Mars500 project, a joint venture of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP), is underway. This 520-day simulation of a trip to Mars involves six volunteers sealed in an isolation chamber in Moscow. The crew has successfully completed the simulated trip to Mars and the thirty-day stay on that planet, and is now pretending to be flying home.

At the beginning of the mission, crewmember Diego Urbina provided this video tour:

Besides coping with isolation and cramped quarters for a year and a half, the crew of a real mission to Mars must also be ready to handle all kinds of emergencies, from equipment failure to medical crises. Not only could such a crew not expect any physical aid from Earth (no rescue would be possible) but they may not even have the luxury of waiting for technical support. Depending on where the spacecraft is, it can take up to forty minutes to ask a question and receive an answer from Earth. Self-sufficiency is essential.

To that end, the Mars500 crew underwent emergency medical training, including procedures that have been modified to work without gravity. During the flight, they’ve been given medical tasks to perform on a doll as well as a series of other experiments and tasks. Thus far, everything is going well.

The crew is expected ‘home’ in November.

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