This week marks the beginning of a very important event in the 21st century space race as 6 volunteers start a simulated voyage to Mars.
These 6 mock astronauts will live for 520 days in a vacuum sealed mock spaceship which has been built in a warehouse in one of Moscow's suburbs. While not as glamorous as the real thing, this is non the less a very important step in the eventual human mission to the red planet.
Organised by the European Space Agency and Russia's Institute of Biomedical Problems the researchers hope that the experiment will offer insights into just how a real mission would function and how the Astronauts would cope physically, emotionally and psychologically.
These volunteers will be monitored 24 hours a day while they split their time up working for 8 hours, sleeping for 8 hours and relaxing for the remaining 8 hours of each day. With no access to telephones, internet or even natural light and breathing only recycled air will provide a tough test, when combined with a shower every 10 days and a limited space of just 550 cubic metres then this will be likely to test mental states and group dynamics to the very limits.
Looking at the video below I do have to wonder how much wood a real spacecraft would use in the corridors walls etc (may seem like a small point but I bet it has some effect on psychology over monotonous grey/white walls)
Now if this were a simulation based on popular scifi films and books you could also expect highly intelligent malfunctioning computers, people becoming homicidal or even a manically depressed robot with a brain the size of a planet. Let's hope they remember to keep their towels with them at all times and not to offer lifts to any passing aliens.
A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice.
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