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Mars Social Networks Space Science

Mars500 Mission Begins 235

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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  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:01AM (#32444064)
    20 minute delay ... they won't be getting first post then
    • by dintech ( 998802 )

      Yes and knowing that you can get out whenever you want might also change how well you cope with being in there.

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#32444126)

        Yes and knowing that you can get out whenever you want might also change how well you cope with being in there.

        I suppose that could go either way. For some people being able to get out might make it like trying to give up smoking with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter in your pocket. For others it might be a reassurance.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by oldspewey ( 1303305 )
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Wiarumas ( 919682 )
          Eh, it goes both ways. These people know that there is a world outside those walls and a life past those 500 days. Whereas there is a great, expansive nothingness that extends forever all around their module during the real deal. Sure, it might be a glorious voyage, but with great peril as well... not to mention the fact that it might be a high probability of being a journey to certain death. Even the strongest minds might be impacted by the survival mechanism after a breaking point is reached during th
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by egamma ( 572162 )

            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.

          • I don't think that could be replicated.

            Well, it could, but I doubt the lawyers would sign off on the concept.

        • On the real mission, a significant fraction of that 500 days would be spent ON Mars. (how cool would that be!). Want to get away from the hab. and go for a walk, no problem. Just suit up and go. You would NOT be locked up in an enclosed environment like these folks are.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            So what you're saying is that on a real mission to Mars you get to break the monotony, but in Soviet Russia the monotony breaks you?
    • by adeft ( 1805910 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#32444128)
      Ground control operator: "Hey uh.....Steve, while you're in space and all, mind if I go over to your house and sleep with your wife? I'll give you about 19 minutes to say no"
      • by muckracer ( 1204794 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:11AM (#32444188)

        > Ground control operator: "Hey uh.....Steve, while you're in space and all, mind if I go over to your house and sleep with your wife? I'll give you about 19 minutes to say no"

        Steve: "Hey uh....Ground Control Operator, sure...go ahead. I killed the biatch just before take-off. I'll give you 8 months to come and get me"

      • Considering that they're going to be in there for 500 days, would you bother asking?

    • > 20 minute delay ... they won't be getting first post then

      On Mars they will. All a matter of perspective ;-)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Hey! First post from the Mars500 Mission!

    • "First"??? They'll be lucky to be able to get in a "IBTL" ;-)

    • 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?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bakkster ( 1529253 )

        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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mutube ( 981006 )

          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 sznupi ( 719324 )

        That's what they plan to do, last time I read about their project...

  • ...so if the mission is supposed to be a "true" simulation, does that mean the cosmonauts would be using Twitter during the real voyage?

  • by happy_place ( 632005 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:03AM (#32444082) Homepage
    Aren't they called Nursing Homes? Care for the Elderly is strangely akin to this...
  • by krou ( 1027572 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#32444136)
    ... the blog's in Russian. In Russia blogs translate you, etc. etc. ESA has a mission diary [esa.int] available though, written by Diego Urbina and Romain Charles.
  • Personally I'd consider the distance to the, oh, let's say M31, as vast. Or even the distance to the other side of our own galaxy.

    The distance to Mars is, all things being relative, right around the corner.

    • The distance to Mars, relative to the other side of our galaxy, would be moving in any direction 1nm or less.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by natehoy ( 1608657 )

        The distance to Mars, relative to me driving down to the corner store to pick up a 6er of Sam Adams, is mindbogglingly vast. And I live in a rural enough area that it's not a short drive.

        Bad humor aside, the distance to Mars (about 55 million km, if you use the closest approach) is still vast compared to a trip to, say, the Moon (the furthest out Humans have been so far, at about 385,000 km).

        It's almost 150 times as far to Mars as it is to the Moon. That's sufficiently "vast" that we really need to make s

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by natehoy ( 1608657 )

      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

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      Personally I'd consider the distance to the, oh, let's say M31, as vast.

      Personally, I'd consider the distance to Mars vast, since it's an order of magnitude greater than the total distance I'm likely to travel in my lifetime.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dylan_- ( 1661 )

        Personally, I'd consider the distance to Mars vast, since it's an order of magnitude greater than the total distance I'm likely to travel in my lifetime.

        Not so! At its closest, Mars is about 55 millions km away whereas you travel about 150 million km each year.

        • If we could just throw the earth out of orbit and into the path of Mars, we could be there in as little as 4 months?
    • Too bad distances are absolute, then.
      • Actually, depending on their relative orbits, the distance between Earth and Mars ranges from 55,000,000 km to about 400,000,000 km, so anything but absolute...
        • I know that. What I said concerned the nature of distance itself, not any measurement. Distance, not the distance or a distance.

          In short, I was being obtuse.
    • You're chastising them for not having the proper sense of cosmological perspective by calling the distance to Mars vast, but you choose as your example of the truly vast to be the closest galaxy to us?


      Andromeda is a stone's throw away. I refer you to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The distance to one of those galaxies is vast. Galaxies so distant that the light reaching us today is from only a short time after the Big Bang. That's vast. Our pathetic local group is far too tiny on a truly cosmological

  • Did they see it as too big a risk to lock up mixed genders in there?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      How long til the party gets gay?
    • Yes. Mix genders and things just get ugly.

      No matter how professional your humans are to start out, unless you have your entire group as either singles not attracted to each other, or very stable and committed couples (and even that's a risk), there's gonna be some serious tension by the end of several years in a confined space. Maybe even some killing.

      The best way to reduce the risk is to eliminate sexual tension, and that means picking a single gender. And orgasmotron wouldn't hurt either.

      Of course, thi

      • It might be better to test the theory first with a mixed group (after all, the purpose of the test is to determine the outcome of various scenarios in a relatively controlled and controllable environment). At least that way if it does all go horribly wrong, they have a justification for the single gender study and can avoid the inevitable discrimination accusations.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by zill ( 1690130 )

          It might be better to test the theory first with a mixed group

          I already conducted an experiment with a limited sample size within a constrained time-frame (1 girl and 5 minutes respectively).

          Needless to say the results were highly discouraging.

      • by rtaylor ( 70602 )

        I wonder how a group of swingers would fair?

        If you start with devout swingers already attracted to each-other then there really wouldn't be much sexual tension either as it would be continuously relieved and there is little risk of someone being left out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RivenAleem ( 1590553 )

      All male (or all female) is probably the best way to arrange these things, unless they are prepared to give up their privacy in such matters. It's okay to have segregated showers etc in a submarine these days because of the sheer size of them now. But if you are trying to budget for 3-4 man crew, then they have to be comfortable being naked in each other's presence.

      It would be a useful second round to try it with mixed genders, but for now arranging it with just the one gender give a more defined control gr

    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Might be not merely anticipating risk, but acting on experience - last time somebody mixed sexes, it didn't end up good.

  • Last time the Russians tried this, two of them bloodied each other and one of the women was nearly raped. No women this time.
  • Elephant in the room (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wombatmobile ( 623057 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:34AM (#32444508)
    How are they going to handle sex?
  • Rosy Palm (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrTripps ( 1306469 )
    Some with one hand. Others with two.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 2obvious4u ( 871996 )
      So when are they going to send 6 hot women to mars with a CCTV feed on 20 min time delay. That mission might just fund itself.
  • 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 s

    • 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.

      • On the subject of phones, I played around with Google Sky and it's just mind boggling to me that this device which, ten years ago, was able to send monochrome text messages of a maximum of 160 characters, make calls and play Snake, can now be used to plot the position of all the stars in the night sky. Or the daytime sky for that matter, or I can point it down at the ground and see the names and positions of stars just as someone on the opposite side of the world would see them. Technology which would have
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Simonetta ( 207550 )

          ...and just because the money isn't there today, doesn't mean the scientists, politicians and astronauts of tomorrow aren't falling in love with the whole space thing right now,...

          The money isn't here today. And it's not going to be here tomorrow. That's my whole point. The money was pissed away. It's gone. And this means exactly that the scientists, et al. of tomorrow won't be falling in love with the whole Space thing. The whole Space thing is over. The scientists of today a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

      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 contac

    • 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.

  • It sounds like World Championship Big Brother.

    • It sounds like World Championship Big Brother.

      I would so watch Big Brother if it was set on Mars and the evicted member each week was just dumped out of the airlock. Untapped sponsorship opportunity?

  • They should add Pauly Shore to the crew. This way, they recoup their budget expenses as a direct to DVD comedy release.
  • by Combatso ( 1793216 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:22AM (#32445144)
    18 months in a confined, dark space is nothing for most Slashdotters.. ofcourse, sociallizing with 5 other people would be.

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