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How to survive a mission to Mars

By Michael Banks

On 3 June 2010 six people – Romain Charles, Alexei Sitev, Diego Urbina, Sukhrob Kamolov, Alexei Sitev, Alexander Smoleevsky and Wang Yue – entered a capsule located at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow.

The crew was heading for a 520-day mission to Mars, but instead of getting ready for launch they were going nowhere. They are part of an experiment conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA) to simulate a manned flight to the red planet.

The crew live and work in a mock-up spacecraft with limited food supplies and even a 20-minute delay in communication with the outside world (which is only possible via e-mail).

While ESA will be carefully studying how the participants respond to being locked away on the ground for more than 500 days, author Mary Roach has written a new book looking into the science of life in space.

Released on 2 August, Packing For Mars attempts to answer some of those questions you always wanted to know such as what happens when you can’t walk for a year or what happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk?

I haven’t read the book yet, but if it is anything like the short video posted yesterday by the publishers to promote the book then it will make for an hilarious read.

One only hopes that the ESA participants have better success than the ones in the video; at least they will be able to wash themselves.

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  1. Dileep Sathe

    This story reminds me of a story on dated: 02 February 2010. I am still concerned with the survival of man on Mars, as its acceleration due to gravity is nearly one-third of Earth. So readers interested in the above story can find the earlier story: “Obama cancels Moon return” (and comments on it)useful.

  2. jjeherrera

    I’ve always found it hard to understand why there is so much insistence in manned space exploration, when it has been proven that robots are infinitely better at it.

  3. arktour

    “it has been proven that robots are infinitely better at [space exploration].”
    Here’s something to prove: put a robot in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and see how long it takes to find dinosaurs.


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