'Astronauts' Are Preparing For Human Mars Missions With Intense Simulation

Traveling to space and Mars is something many of us often dream about, and for six lucky 'astronauts,' they're currently experiencing the next best thing with an intense simulation right here on Earth. For years, Mars has been a destination filled with wonder and amazement. It's one of the closest planets to Earth, is believed to have been home to ancient life billions of years ago, and is regularly featured in various forms of pop culture.

While robots are the only things from Earth to have visited Mars so far, that's getting ready to change in the not-too-distant future. NASA currently plans to send the first humans to Mars in 2030. While landing rovers and probes on Mars is difficult enough, safely getting humans there and bringing them back is a challenge all on its own. An enormous amount of work is being done to ensure the mission goes as smoothly as possible, including rigorous simulations on Earth.

Related: New Perseverance Photo Reveals Martian Rocks In Incredible Detail

That's what's happening right now deep in the Negev desert in Israel. As part of a mission conducted by the Australian Space Forum, six 'astronauts' are currently living there for the next month while getting the full Mars experience. They have special spacesuits they need to wear outside, live in a 'Martian' base, and have different missions to conduct to simulate what human astronauts would actually do on Mars. The six individuals come from all over the world, including Israel, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands.

One of the biggest challenges for a human mission to Mars is understanding the effect it'll have on the astronauts chosen for it. Between the months-long flight to Mars, living on an alien planet, conducting research there, and the lengthy flight back, that's a lack to ask both physically and emotionally from anyone. A simulation like this aims to better comprehend how people react and adjust to such a demanding task. With this simulation, specifically, the Australian Space Forum is studying how the 'astronauts' handle a month of isolation in a desolate environment.

The crew will be tasked with a variety of jobs/scenarios throughout the mission, such as using drones and other wind and solar-powered vehicles to traverse the desert. Another task will simulate Earthborn bacteria infecting a Martian lifeform — something that would "be a huge problem" if it were to really happen on the planet. The simulation obviously can't recreate the temperature and atmosphere present on Mars, but this is about as close as scientists can get without actually visiting the planet.

Even with those caveats, this is still a critical step in getting to that 2030 human mission to Mars. As explained by mission supervisor Gernot Groemer, "What we are doing here is preparing a large mission, the largest voyage our society has ever taken, as Mars and Earth are 380 million kilometers apart at their extreme point." This may be a small piece of the puzzle for getting humans to Mars, but that doesn't make it any less important.

Next: NASA's Mars Orbiter Captures Mesmerizing 'Blue Dunes'

Source: The Times Of Israel

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