A team of six Russian scientists have successfully completed the first part of the MARS 500 experiment which may pave the way for the world's first manned flight to the Red Planet. Researchers have been testing man’s ability to cope with long periods in s
The researchers from the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems had volunteered to spend 14 days locked in a metal tube, being watched 24 hours a day, subjected to medical experiments and running drills.
This is the first in sequence of experiments in preparation to launch a first international mission to Mars by 2020.
The goal is to launch a first international mission to Mars by 2020.
First part of MARS-500 project is over
The six were testing out a specially constructed unit equipped with the latest life support, control and communication technology.
The idea was to create an atmosphere as close to space flight conditions as possible. Even anticipating meeting Martians was part of the programme.
“We were isolated from the normal day and night cycles. We were under no effect of the sun or magnetic fields, so we needed to monitor the changes in our bodies,” Anton Artamonov, one of the mission volunteers said.
Mock Mars walk
Next comes 105-day experiment before a full-on mock mission to Mars, when several people will be locked in a tube for more than a year to simulate the long flight to the fiery planet.
There isn’t shortage of hermit volunteers. European Space Agency will be sending scientists for the next mission.
NASA was also invited but so far hasn’t announced whether Americans will take part.
Currently, the work to accommodate the lucky ones selected is in full swing. An additional module is being constructed to imitate the Martian surface.
By the end of 2008, the scientists promise they’ll be able to mock a Mars walk.
How far is the dream?
The planet is 56 million kilometres away from Earth. That equates to roughly 250 days travel in a spaceship. Then a period spent on Mars and finally a shorter trip back to Earth, all in all 520 days.
But humans have never spent that long in space.
And that's what several enthusiasts have volunteered to go through.
“We consider that 520 days are enough to test the facilities, to estimate the condition of the people and the medical support necessary during a flight to Mars,” Viktor Baranov, ‘Mars 500’ project chief manager, said.