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Mars News Technology

Simulated Mars Mission 'Returns' After 520 Days 201

On June 3, 2010, a team of six volunteers began the Mars500 experiment: they were locked into a cluster of hermetically sealed habitat modules for the duration of a simulated mission to Mars lasting 520 days. "During the ‘flight,' the crew performed more than 100 experiments, all linked to the problems of long-duration missions in deep space. To add to their isolation, communications with mission control were artificially delayed to mimic the natural delays over the great distances on a real Mars flight." The simulated mission has now come to an end. The crew managed to stay healthy and sane, and they've emerged from isolation to be reunited with their families. The ESA's Mars500 page has further details on the experiment, and they've posted a video summarizing the 'trip.'
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Simulated Mars Mission 'Returns' After 520 Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04, 2011 @10:00AM (#37947054)

    This is not the first time they made this experiment. The first two times it failed.

  • Re:Zero G (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mephistophocles ( 930357 ) on Friday November 04, 2011 @10:02AM (#37947082) Homepage
    Not sure I would completely agree with the effectiveness of this study from a psychological perspective. It's interesting, no doubt, but the problem is that the people in the capsule still know they're on earth, safe, etc. They have a known end date for the study, etc. Assuming all that's taken into account here of course, but I wouldn't rely on the results in assuming that a human could maintain santiy for this period of time while actually in flight.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Friday November 04, 2011 @10:06AM (#37947128)

    How did they simulate zero gravity and its adverse effects on the human body??

    Mir and ISS have done that. This seems to be a psychological test regarding isolation. However without the extreme risk of actual interplanetary spaceflight the psychological data might be limited. The stress of such a risk has to have an effect.

    Which make me wonder if candidates for a Mars mission should be "old school" astronauts, those with experience as test pilots and who probably flew combat missions as well, or who did night carrier landing (*), etc.

    (*) Maybe its a myth but I once heard that during the Vietnam war the US Navy wired up some pilots to record vital signs related to stress. Pilots were more stressed during night carrier landings than on combat missions near/over Hanoi (a very hazardous area for these pilots).

  • Re:Zero G (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stewbee ( 1019450 ) on Friday November 04, 2011 @10:44AM (#37947558)
    While slightly anecdotal, I was a submariner. If we ever were to have severe flooding, we would be going down to never return in all likelihood. Fortunately there are varying degrees of flooding, However I recognize space is not as forgiving. Now this certainly is a small case of comparing apples to oranges, there are still some similarities. You're locked in a tube and there is no way out, and if you do find a way out, you are probably hosed anyway. People always ask me how did I coped with being on a sub, and didn't it make you claustrophobic . I answer honestly and say that I didn't think about it and that it didn't bother me. It was actually kind of enjoyable and cool. I imagine that there are other people like me who would have a similar attitude about being in a space vessel.
  • by Bucc5062 ( 856482 ) <> on Friday November 04, 2011 @11:29AM (#37948122)

    British sailing Man-of-Wars would be out of contact with land for months at a time. American Whalers reported being at sea for three years in pursuit of the South Sea sperm whales. Those men did perfectly fine. These ships sometimes had hundreds of people and the men did not go bat shit insane.

    That is just wrong. Those ships were not riding the seas for three years with no contact with land. They had to stop and times to provision, unload cargo, perform repairs that would require calm waters and materials from land. So perhaps they were away from"home" for three years, but natives in the south pacific may from time to time had blue eyed babies. There was also rampant "buggery", discipline through fear and violence and death was treated a part of the risk, not the exception. Out of a hundred crew members, if you lose one or two on a cruise you just re-hire in port or just make do. Lose a crew on a 5/6 man space mission has way more impact on every aspect of the mission.

    Someone else mentioned subs that go on patrol for 5-6 months as a closer example to this experiment. In that I slightly agree, but 5-6 months is not 520 days. Subs are equipped with some of the best food products for meals, vast media libraries, and a military structure that (on the surface) sets a standard of behavior. No navy has tried to run a sub for 2 years non stop underwater. Now that may could close to an ideal on earth experiment.

    It would be easy to say "just send em up and see what happens", but when you are talking Billions of dollars invested with no direct return? I can understand a step wise approach. Whaling ships were a lot cheaper to build (thus lose) then a Mars spacecraft.

  • Re:Zero G (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yo Grark ( 465041 ) on Friday November 04, 2011 @11:56AM (#37948530)

    I was thinking just drop them in the Ocean at a deep depth to add to the simulation. There's no-one coming for you in an emergency in that case, and there's a very real possibility of system failure.

    Yo Grark

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson