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Mars ISS NASA Space Science

The Space Station As a Simulated Mars Mission? 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-iss-to-mars dept.
astroengine writes "NASA is looking at using the International Space Station as a testbed for a human mission to Mars, beginning with a planned week-long simulation to be staged next summer. Preliminary tests would involve working on systems that give astronauts more autonomy, perhaps culminating in a full mission analog, sealing a crew inside a separate module of the station with minimal interaction with the rest of the station and mission control. 'We want to use the space station as a way to get smarter about what a mission to Mars or a mission to an asteroid might look like,' space station flight controller Pete Hasbrook told Discovery News."
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The Space Station As a Simulated Mars Mission?

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  • I think this simulation is a bit more realistic (apart from the gravity aspect): http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41192648/ns/technology_and_science-space/ [msn.com]
    • "apart from the gravity aspect"

      That's not a quickly overlooked triffle. Low gravity causes loss of bone and muscle density and allows organs to shift about in ways that could make it extremely difficult to do the work an mars explorer would be required to accomplish in the first few weeks. Think about it, not only do they have to survive land-fall (sudden jarring impact after months losing bone and muscle mass -- remember, there's no water or runways on Mars to take the edge off that landing) but they th

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Because people like to see people go and achieve things..

        The trip to mars will have robots. Lots of them probably, but also people.

        People can do things robots can't.

        The issues you describe are engineering issues, and not insurmountable to solve, just costly.

        While we work on that, we should be sending more robots, and once we have a mission at the point where we are building a ship, we should seen tons of supplies to mars.

      • "apart from the gravity aspect"

        That's not a quickly overlooked triffle.

        I would agree, however, the point of the experiment in the aforementioned article was to see if humans could feasibly be confined for a duration of a trip to Mars. The reason gravity is not an issue here is that we already have data from past experience in this domain. Take for example Expedition 14 to the ISS ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expedition_14 [wikipedia.org]). This expedition lasted for 215 days, in which two crew members were weightless that entire time. In comparison, this article is talking about spending

        • by Kjella (173770)

          We already have people having lived close together in very cramped conditions for long periods of time, like say submarines.

          We already have plenty people that have been on very isolated research outputs with little to no chance of evacuation.

          We already have people having stayed in space as long or longer than the proposed Mars trips.

          I think the human aspect is highly exaggerated and a smokescreen for what we don't have. Launch, transfer and landing vehicle, mars habitat and likewise for the return trip. I t

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Gravity is a huge thing.

      Although, a better idea would be to build a station for the task. One that you could apply rockets to, for propulsion to Mars.

      That way, it's not just a feasibility thing, but a dry run as well - and you could use it for the mission to Mars.

    • by INT_QRK (1043164)
      Also, ISS is substantially inside Earth's magnetosphere so enjoys significant radiation/solar wind protection. Mars mission won't. But no simulations are perfect. Key is whether sufficiently useful given cost.
  • Adjust the ISS stay so that the astronauts bodies weakened condition (from lack of gravity) vs earth's gravity matches what they would be like on Mars. Since Mar's gravity is less than Earth's a shorter stay in orbit would be required, perhaps 2-3 months instead of 6.

  • I would think Antarctica is a better choice for this kind of experiments. Apart from the gravity difference, it's as hostile an environment as you can get on our own planet, plus it's way easier to get there if there's a problem.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      well, one of the things they need to test, is how something functions on the trip to mars, which means near weightlessness.

      You can't test a floating robot at the antarctic. .. well maybe the antigravityartic

      and depending on the time of the year, the ISS can be easier to et to the the Antarctic.

  • They need to set up a torus for artificial gravity, allowing them to perform experiments on all kinds of gravity levels.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "as a way to get smarter about"

    Huh?

    AS A WAY TO GET SMARTER ABOUT?

    Does he mean "to learn more about"? Or is that too 'normal speak' for him, so he thought he'd make up some 'management speak'. (You know, idiocies like "speak TO the paper". You can't speak TO a paper, you can only speak ABOUT it. Or like "in order to LEVERAGE so and so". Leverage is a NOUN, not a verb.)

  • To really simulate a Mars mission, have this module run full duration without any resupply or deliveries of failed equipment i.e. Elektron oxygen generator. Ugh, if module has life threatening failures of equipment then either let them figure it out or die, or provide backup equipment and then disqualify the simulated mission. However, we have seen what is needed for a long duration mission. I never could understand how they regard the Orion as being a Mars vehicle when it has no room for exercise equipment
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yeah..no. It's to test specific things, not a complete Mars test. and no you don't let them die.

      What are you, an animal?

      • by k6mfw (1182893)
        >What are you, an animal?

        No but as soon as you have to replace key equipment to prevent death, then the Mars simulation is disqualified. Specific test that needs to be done is a full duration test (i.e. testing an emergency 24-hr generator has to be tested 24 hours, not 10 minutes).

    • I never could understand how they regard the Orion as being a Mars vehicle when it has no room for exercise equipment.

      When they were talking about using the Orion as a Mars vehicle, they meant that it was the part that the crew rode up to the Mars transit vehicle, and then rode back down to Earth when they came home.

      • by k6mfw (1182893)
        >part that the crew rode up to the Mars transit vehicle

        I wonder how serious they were on this vehicle, that "Apollo on steriods" never impressed me that much except it would be the last manned (HSF) spacecraft this country would produce. oh wait, Elon may come up with something...

  • Err... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by transami (202700) on Friday April 22, 2011 @03:22PM (#35909032) Homepage

    I don't know. Maybe the MOON would make a good testbed!

    Doesn't it seem like all we do anymore is prognosticate about what we are going to do, but when the time actually comes to get going we just pull the funding?

  • Maybe someone should write a package about life in a mars colony. They could allow you a first person pount of view, with some limited interaction with the enviornment. We could call it something like "Doing Our Own Mission". Maybe just abbreviate it for simplicity.

  • I'm a bit disappointed that the article doesn't mention the cosmonauts that are already on their simulated way back from their simulated 520-day Mars mission:
    Mars 500 timeline [esa.int]
    Only half a year more and then they'll be let out of their Moscow container!
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday April 22, 2011 @05:30PM (#35910250) Homepage Journal

    So, I guess this means they've given up on a using a rotating space ship for the trip to Mars? That's disappointing, it would make growing food easier and keep the people healthier.

    Landing people on Mars as a first priority seems silly. We should build a rotating Mars space station here in an appropriate orbit, have Space X push it to Mars, then, once we have a space station in orbit of Mars, start attempting landings. Maybe the first crews never go down to the planet, they just do science from LMO. Then, send landers/ascenders to Mars as needed to keep the traffic going up and down. Preferably mostly down, so they can build a rocket facility on Mars before the end of the century.

    And, before we send one of those rotating space stations to Mars, we should have one here, for practice. Maybe with real commercial lift about to become a reality it'll turn out that Branson gets one built before NASA.

    Crawl, walk, run, in that order. I'm not all that eager to send a bunch of sickened guys in a tin can so they can plant a flag on Mars.

    • So, I guess this means they've given up on a using a rotating space ship for the trip to Mars?

      Or they need the data from this mission to show that they absolutely need a rotating vehicle for a Mars trip. There is so much research and study that needs to happen before any time of Mars mission that it's really too early to tell how they're going to do it.

  • Lets say, oh, I don't know, like maybe the Moon?
  • You need to leave the Earth's magnetic field for a valid test. Right now, we just don't have the technology to safely get a human-being to Mars and back. They'll just be killed from exposure to radiation, micro-metorites, lack of gravity and so on. There are technologies to prevent this - we'll need about 6 feet of lead shielding between the capsule and exposure to the sun's radation and using a rotational section to create gravity for the long journey. Still iffy though since we don't have any known sh

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