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Mars500 Mission Begins 235

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-think-I-saw-this-movie dept.
krou writes "The six participants in the Mars500 project have entered their sealed facility. The project, which lasts for 18 months, is designed to try and simulate a mission to Mars, completely isolated and cut off from the outside world, with a '20-minute, one-way time-delay in communications to mirror the real lag in sending messages over the vast distance between Mars and Earth.' They also have limited consumables, with everything required being loaded onboard from the start. You can follow developments via the blog, or the Twitter feed of Diego Urbina, one of the would-be cosmonauts."
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Mars500 Mission Begins

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  • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeng (926980) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:09AM (#32444162)

    If Twitter is still popular at that time yes.

    Publicity is a necessary component of NASA missions.

  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:11AM (#32444190)
    This, and also the fact that your entire mindset will be different when you know you are participating in the greatest voyage humankind has ever contemplated ... vs. just being part of some experiment where you are locked up for 500 days.
  • Re:Pure theater (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:15AM (#32444226)

    We have the technology today, we could start designing, building, and testing a manned mars mission tomorrow. The risks would be high, the costs would be huge, and the time frame makes it politically difficult but we have the technology needed to start and by the time the start is done we'll have the technology to finish.

    Because the risks are high, we will almost certainly set out to identify and quantify them before putting too much money into the program. One of the risks that we know very little about are the psychological problems of being trapped in a small, enclosed space with a handful of other individuals for a few years. Especially with such limited contact with the outside world and what is almost undoubtedly an boring, repetitive diet (you'd be surprised at how much something like that will drive people crazy after a while).

  • Re:Pure theater (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:23AM (#32444348) Homepage

    Well, it depends how you say it - we have the technology to develop the technology needed. But we don't have much of the rockets, landers, habitats, robotics and whatnot we'd need. Everything would have to be designed and simulated and manufactured and tested and... So even if you said "Go!" today, I imagine it'd take JFKs decade at best. And with no Cold War and huge national prestige breathing down their necks I suspect 20-30 years is a very realistic estimate. Of course with the current political outlook I wouldn't bet on it being the 21st century.

  • Re:Pure theater (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:29AM (#32444422) Homepage

    Actually we do. we can easily create a sustainable habitat there we have the technology right now. It's all in money. We can create all the air we want IF there is water there we can tap into. send 3 nuclear reactors for power generation, (to have double redundant backup. We need a 13 month OH CRAP survivability window. if everything goes sideways for the next unmanned resupply to send replacements and hopefully land and not crater.

    WE could probably do it for the yearly cost of the Middle East wars.

    but war is profitable and preferable to humanity. so we choose that above a Martian or even moon colony.

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:32AM (#32444480) Journal

    You obviously don't live in New England. Up here, we measure distances in time, not linear measurements. If you ask me how far away something is, I'll give you an answer in minutes or hours.

    "How far is it to Boston?"
    "2 hours"

    The distance to Mars is vast enough that I'd probably answer "You can't get there from here."

    "Vast" is a matter of perspective. Compared to any distance we've sent humans, Mars is pretty vast.

    The distance is sufficiently vast that we need to make sure the driver can handle the folks in the back seat asking "Are we there yet? Now much further is it?" every five minutes. That's why this test is important.

    If the people in this box start killing each other, we at least haven't wasted a bunch of billions of dollars to get their corpses to Mars. We can learn what kind of living space we need to work out to maximize their chances of making it there alive and reasonably sane.

  • Re:Pure theater (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:33AM (#32444496) Homepage Journal

    Right on... manned space exploration at the moment represents more of a really long, expensive camping trip than space exploration.

    Humans aren't particularly adept physically and mentally to live in such confined quarters for months on end. Maybe someday, when we could build larger, sustainable biosphere-like micro-colonies that could stay in space indefinitely and engage the occupants' senses while it cruises around the solar system.

    At least exercises like this Mars500 mission can provide us some more psychological insight in how to get along with each other right here on Earth. But for the near term, it would be cool to dump money in more robotic exploration, science, heck, even extraplanetary mining and fabrication.

  • by dj245 (732906) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:35AM (#32444524) Homepage
    Shouldn't the delay start at 0s and gradually increase to 20 minutes, then decrease back down to 0?
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:55AM (#32444744)

    These people are obsessional fools, not scientists or explorers. If these morons were serious in finding out what it was like to spend 500 days locked in a room, they could just ask any of the millions of people that the government (USA or Russian Federation, what's the difference?) is holding in prison.

      Space Exploration is a 20th-century quasi-religion that is beginning to manifest itself as a mental disease among those people who continue to believe it too strongly.

      Get over it. Manned space flight was a 20th-century phenomenon that has been determined to be too expensive and too limited in returns to be continued at its former funding levels. We have serious problems now that we didn't have then, and throwing hundreds of billions of dollars (that we don't have anymore) into space doesn't solve them. Grown-up people who have to make hard and realistic decisions about our public funds and resources have decided this. Tom Swift halfwits can't accept it. Too bad. Time to get real.

      People born into 20th-century America are prone to economic fantasy because they have lived their whole lives inside one. What they don't realize is that their country and their government is broke. There is no trillion dollars for space explorations. There is no trillion dollars for anything. There is no trillion dollars left anywhere in the USA.

      There WAS a trillion dollars spent on a Iraq-Afghanistan war that accomplished nothing. There was a trillion dollars spent on maintaining the fantasy that some Wall Street banks and investment firms are too big to fail. There was a trillion dollars spent giving $600,000 mortgages to janitors. There was a trillion dollars spent on federal government budget deficits. Money is not a physical good. Money can be created out of nothing and can disappear back to nothing. Technical people never understand this. They don't study economics, and they don't understand economics.

      There were trillions of dollars unwisely spent...and 'there were' means the past. America was rich, now it's not. There was money in the past but there isn't going to be in the future. The trillions of dollars that space enthusiasts believe could and should be spent on the glorious future in space and its endless possibilities for the betterment of humanity don't exist anymore. They've been already spent; and they're gone. The Burger Kings and endless suburban strip malls is what you got for it. It's all that you're going to get. This is the great tragedy that is America and what it could have been, but isn't and now never will be.

     

  • by egamma (572162) <{egamma} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:59AM (#32444798)

    high probability of being a journey to certain death.

    I'm pretty sure that I'm almost positive that "high probability" and "certain death" should not be used in the same sentence.

  • by Bakkster (1529253) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nam.retskkaB.> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:03AM (#32444856)

    I think the idea is to simulate worst-case all the way. If 6 schmucks can make it 18 months of isolation and a 20 minute communication delay, then we are more likely to find any psychological effects.

  • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:10AM (#32444948)

    Get over it. Manned space flight was a 20th-century phenomenon that has been determined to be too expensive and too limited in returns to be continued at its former funding levels

    I'm holding in the palm of my hand a device more powerful then the computer they used to explore most of our solarsystem. Called a cellphone. (actually a smartphone which is more then a high end computer could do 10 years ago.)

    Now, let me tell you, context changes. Time changes. Our technology and knowledge about the universe has changed.

    Be it by gazing at the stars and learning about the universe, about motivating and inspiring people to push the limits of the physical possible while they dream about doing awesome things, fed by media, scifi, fantasy, dream-technology or what have you. It inspires and makes you work for days, months, years without end to a seemingly useless purpose.

    We have evolved these decades, we have new minds, a new "basic understanding", we process information differently and our younglings and the active working society has different morals, different insights and different goals or knowledge as decades ago.

    Instead of shooting it all down, believing your world is fixed and you possess all the current knowledge, you've very intellectually gathered over all these years, as I, it's no reason to disallow discovery or handing over the flag to those who are still eager and unspoilt in their concepts but dare to dream. And their dreams, as yours or mine, are different too.

    You wont restore your economy by suffocating it, but by creating economical activity and draw in foreign currency. The problem is when you have "fat years" in a country, people sortof lay back and consume and import. While they're at the same time exporting their wealth, just up the point where it tips over and they're dependent of import (of goods, services, knowledge, ...).

    So let these suckers play around with their concept of science, give them boundaries in which they can manoeuvre and need to be creative (no needless large fundings and no "wealthfare" bureaucratic jobs.) things will look much different, then.

    tl:dr; time changes.

  • by mutube (981006) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:12AM (#32444986) Homepage

    I would have thought a gradual increase in isolation would be more demotivating than starting out at the worst case and staying stable? Every day things get a little harder...

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:41AM (#32445432) Homepage

    People born into 20th-century America are prone to economic fantasy because they have lived their whole lives inside one. What they don't realize is that their country and their government is broke. There is no trillion dollars for space explorations. There is no trillion dollars for anything. There is no trillion dollars left anywhere in the USA.

    I hate to interrupt your rant, but just maybe you should read TFA and notice who is running this simulation. Then your rant will have at least one point of contact with reality.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:52AM (#32445608) Homepage

    Not a bad rant, but in a fiat economy, money is essentially a fiction. A trillion-dollars is no more meaningful a figure than a hojillion dollars.

    What's significant is assets - the housing bubble which you lament left us with plenty of cheap real estate, which is a good thing - and work: whether people do it, what they do, and how efficiently they do it.

    There are plenty of Americans who could be working on manned space exploration. If they're not doing that, what would you suggest they do instead? Till the fields? Watch Oprah re-runs all day while collecting welfare?

    We can afford manned space travel. We can even afford government funded space travel. The only question is what we give up to free up the people to work on it. I'd say giving up Iraq and Afghanistan would be a good start.

  • Re:Pure theater (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:20PM (#32446048) Homepage

    The power plant of a single nuclear submarine would easily power a large 60 person population mars base. Considering they are not moving all that extra power can be wasted on silly things to increase comfort. The temperatures that nuclear subs run at are similar to mars and therefore would not be hard to keep the entire base at a balmy 78 degrees. Going nuke for the base would eliminate the problems of solar that far from the sun and the dust that would have to be cleaned off. The same power plant can make pure water to drink and air to breathe, just like how they do on Submarines.

    In fact 90% of what we need to create a base on mars is in a typical nuclear submarine. If we could launch and plop a boomer sub on mars, it would make for an excellent Martian base.

    Being that far away, it's a good idea to have multiple redundancies.. unless you don't value the life of the crew, then don't waste money on spares.

  • Re:Pure theater (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:05PM (#32446954)

    We don't have the political will because ...

    NO
    ONE
    CARES.

    This stuff is childish nonsense. There's nothing in space. It's a vacuum. A couple of rocks. That's it.

    Now get me my life extension and anti-aging, now THAT's something I can get behind!

    Months long trips to desolate rocks? Who cares?

  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:44PM (#32447700) Homepage Journal

    IANAA, but it doesn't seem like it would take too much effort to scout and then hijack an asteroid or ice comet and maneuver it back gradually on the ITN [wikipedia.org], and then park it in a stable orbit nearby. It'll take a few years to do it without using a lot of fuel, but that gives you time to drum up a market while it's in transit. Then you'll have a decent amount of water or raw material for shielding / etc. to use for other projects, the kind of bulk material which does take a fair amount of dough to transfer out of our gravity well.

    But yeah, harvesting it for terrestrial use would be a bit silly since Earth probably has more abundant and accessible minerals, even rare ones.

    Wistful thinking, I know... and I've probably been playing too much EVE / Vendetta Online, but I'm frankly a bit surprised that some kind of scheme like this isn't even on the long-term plan.

  • Re:Pure theater (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:37PM (#32448596) Journal

    I care what's in space, out of sheer curiosity if nothing else. It may not be Star Trek but if you think it's a vacuum with a couple of rocks, you're a total moron. Total, total moron.

    Now the fact that you're asking for anti-aging and life extension (all over this thread) instead of a cure for cancer or something tells me you're just old and not happy with it. Stop being a selfish, cowardly fuck and accept your mortality. You can already live far longer than any human could have in nature, if you're enjoying your life so much, just enjoy what's left of it and die in peace.

    You "life extension fanatics" disgust me. After living long lives, you're just screaming "WAAAAAH I DON'T WANNA DIIIEEEE!!!! WAAAAAAH!!!" It's the most fucking pathetic thing I've ever seen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:41PM (#32449558)

    The pictures for the crew are all guys (and none are elephants). Which to be PC, does not exclude sex. However, it does make pregnancy unlikely.

The first version always gets thrown away.

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