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The Mars 500 isolation facility where six crewmembers will live  (Source: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Six people are now locked inside a simulation chamber that will mimic a mission to Mars

A highly anticipated 520-day simulation of a manned mission to Mars is now underway in a virtual spacecraft that is located in Moscow.

As part of the monitored test, all six participants will not be able to leave the controlled environment until the project ends in November 2011.  The first 250 days will focus on a mock flight to Mars, with a 30-day scheduled "exploration" of the Martian surface, and a 230-day return trip.

There are three Russians, one French citizen, one Italian-Colombian, and one Chinese citizen currently living in the Mars500 isolation facility.  The crew will have two days off each week, but must remain inside of the capsule during the entire mock mission.

"Certainly, the crew is largely on its own here, with very limited communications with the outside world," said Martin Zell, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, in an interview with the AP.  "They have to cope internally with a lot of conditions and to organize themselves."

The six-man crew will be able to communicate with their friends and family using the internet -- which will be interrupted to help mimic in-space communications -- and can only consume canned and freeze dried supplies like on the International Space Station (ISS).

Some critics have said that this mission isn't realistic, but the organizers of the mission, led by the European, Russian and Chinese space programs, said it will give the countries a better insight into how certain technologies will work in space.

As the ISS mission winds down, space nations already have their sights set on manned missions to Mars.  It's likely the moon will be used as a stepping stone to the Red Planet, as it'll still be decades before a country is expected to launch a crew to Mars.



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6 men locked together
By taber on 6/4/2010 1:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
Seems to me they're leaving what's potentially one of the biggest parts of the experiment out. What's the likelihood any trip to Mars would be all male? I could almost see matching up 3 married couples being more realistic. Guess they just wanted to leave the sexual harassment out of this one:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6955149/page/3/

Best of luck to them in getting a good bit of useful info out of this regardless.




RE: 6 men locked together
By jdsal on 6/4/2010 1:45:52 AM , Rating: 5
What would happen if there was a mixed gender crew and someone got pregnant. The child could potentially be either born in space or on Mars.

Would that child be an Earthling or the first citizen of Mars?

Makes me wonder...


RE: 6 men locked together
By therealnickdanger on 6/4/2010 8:57:38 AM , Rating: 1
The first ever Martian baby? Very cool! Of course, the solution is to give all the men a vasectomy. Then they can bone their way to the Red Planet.. or Uranus.


RE: 6 men locked together
By MrBlastman on 6/4/2010 10:47:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then they can bone their way... [to] Uranus.


Well that would just torpedo the operation right there... err wait, times six.


By StraightCashHomey on 6/4/2010 11:35:50 AM , Rating: 2
Heyoooooooooo


RE: 6 men locked together
By rburnham on 6/7/2010 11:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
I wanna tell ya!


By Seemonkeyscanfly on 6/4/2010 9:04:09 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
TextWhat would happen if there was a mixed gender crew and someone got pregnant.


In time you'd have a baby.

Before I knew they were all male I was thinking. Six go in Nine come out.


RE: 6 men locked together
By MozeeToby on 6/4/2010 9:46:14 AM , Rating: 3
Odds are high that if the pregnancy began en route it would not be a successful one. Studies of mice in space have shown that fetal development can't take place in low gravity. The experiment that would have told us if martian and/or moon gravity would be sufficient got canceled for budget reasons a few years ago, so for right now we just don't know. Imagine if it's not and we colonize Mars anyway, women would have to spend nine months living in a giant centrifuge to have a healthy baby.


RE: 6 men locked together
By Spookster on 6/4/2010 12:31:04 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
by jdsal on June 4, 2010 at 1:45 AM

What would happen if there was a mixed gender crew and someone got pregnant. The child could potentially be either born in space or on Mars.

Would that child be an Earthling or the first citizen of Mars?

Makes me wonder...


Hopefully it would be a male baby so they could name him Marvin.


RE: 6 men locked together
By Cr0nJ0b on 6/4/2010 5:48:54 PM , Rating: 3
Seriously...think about what this might mean to say the chinese government...to have a citizen that has some territorial claim to Mars...That, I think, would be a big deal when it comes to future colonization.

They would likely make this a primary goal for their crew. Timing would have to be just right, and you would have to have some facility on mars that could handle the birth...but to claim that the first person born on Mars in the last 20,000 years is of Chinese descent...well that might be worth the whole mission.


RE: 6 men locked together
By MamiyaOtaru on 6/6/2010 6:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
the first person born on Mars in the last 20,000 years

ENTERPRISEMISSION'D


By Seemonkeyscanfly on 6/4/2010 9:25:07 AM , Rating: 5
hmmmm... Maybe all 6 of these men are married. They are just looking for a little peace and quiet. If they are stocked up with playing cards, cigars, poker chips, chips, pretzels, and beer, research will not be the number one thing on their list of things to do.


RE: 6 men locked together
By aguilpa1 on 6/4/2010 1:59:38 PM , Rating: 3
why women in the mix wouldn't be a good idea. Think how awkward and potentially violent a scene becomes when a relationship goes bad at work among coworkers (much drama). Now think about that but being locked in a tin can for over a year. Hmmm, not such a good idea huh?


As much as this is about mars...
By BigToque on 6/4/2010 12:22:43 AM , Rating: 2
This is likely more about how people will be able to handle extreme periods of isolation with a crew in a confined space.

Personally, I'd probably go insane if I had to spend a year and a half in a little container with 5 other people.




RE: As much as this is about mars...
By indignation on 6/4/2010 9:44:06 AM , Rating: 3
I'd go crazy if I had to spend that length of time with 5 girls


By jiulemoigt on 6/6/2010 9:20:14 PM , Rating: 2
Be interesting to take five female twenty somethings and a one guy. Would they kill each other? Sanity or insanity?


Gravity
By Sazabi19 on 6/4/2010 10:09:44 AM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking another thing that is really being overlooked here is gravity. With astronauts in space for even just a few weeks or a couple of months they start to get atrophy. Whats going to happen after months of space flight and then trying to step onto the planet? Granted the gravity of mars isnt quite that of Earth, but when they come back i can see a few problems arrising. Just my thoughts.




RE: Gravity
By JediJeb on 6/4/2010 11:10:51 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Valeri Polyakov, launched 8 January 1994 (Soyuz TM-18), stayed at Mir LD-4 for 437.7 days[1][2], during which he orbited the earth about 7,075 times and traveled 300,765,000 km (186,887,000 mi), returning 22 March 1995 (Soyuz TM-20).


They have at least a little data on what that amount of time in space will do to the human body. This man spent almost twice the amount of time this mission would take before returning to gravity. Others have spent close to the 250 days in space that a single leg will take, so there is some data on the gravity effects already.


wow
By Chiisuchianu on 6/4/2010 4:06:08 PM , Rating: 3
The commies are going out to Mars and here we are in America spending all our time and resources trying to make everyone feel "equal" and bailing out failed businesses over paid ineffective government workers.

Liberals have really turned this place into crap.




RE: wow
By Cr0nJ0b on 6/4/2010 5:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
didn't take long in the thread for the liberal bashing to start. I'm just surprised that there was no mention of Obama eating babies and burning down the white folks.


So this is basically
By Sylar on 6/4/2010 11:13:05 AM , Rating: 4
Big Brother season 12




Biosphere 2 it comes back to you
By moenkopi on 6/4/2010 3:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
They better learn the lessons from biosphere 2 which did a 3 year confined stay. Atleast the biospherians had plants and animals.




Sigh
By rburnham on 6/7/2010 11:34:59 AM , Rating: 2
I picture the astronauts walking about a big grassy field in their suits, saying "Ok pretend this is a red rock." Then one of them sighs and says, "This is stupid."




I wonder...
By deanx0r on 6/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: I wonder...
By MozeeToby on 6/3/2010 11:10:45 PM , Rating: 3
In all honesty there probably isn't a whole lot of use in a manned Mars mission until we're ready to go there and stay there. However, there are plenty of other, more immediately useful destinations that this research is still applicable to. Mining of the moon (for helium3) or near earth asteroids (for metal and rocket fuel) comes to mind, both of which will involve small teams of people in a small enclosed space for long periods.


RE: I wonder...
By gigahertz20 on 6/3/2010 11:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's practical to send humans to Mars unless the trip can be completed in only a few months. No reason to make somebody waste a year of their life just to step foot on the red planet, and come back. We just need to advance our robotics so we can send more unmanned Mars missions to gather samples and explore for water/life.


RE: I wonder...
By Connoisseur on 6/4/2010 12:06:40 AM , Rating: 2
Robots do a piss poor job at inspiring people. Look at the difference between the Apollo programs and every unmanned exploration mission since. We've ostensibly learned a LOT more about our universe in the decades after than we did sending a few people to the moon. But, few care that we launched some nameless faceless robot out of our planet to another planet.

Send HUMANS to another planet? Now that would be a hell of a thing.


RE: I wonder...
By WoWCow on 6/4/2010 12:08:39 AM , Rating: 5
Play a bout of mass effect and figure out what humans found on Mars - all the reason you need!

On a serious note to the article - 6 people locked in a capsule eating canned and frozen goods for 520 days is more of a psychology experiment more than anything.

Quite a number of us takes living space for granted; but sharing a confined space with your fellow men for extended periods of time will feel like prison. The food the participants will be eating... I would assume those food would be loaded with preservatives to keep them edible but horridly tasting after a few meals.

And consider this - your only form of communication with the outside is talking to a government issued screen blabbering orders and ideals all over you and your family and friends will be cut off from you physically for over a year!

Ah, 1984 all over again - except in space!


RE: I wonder...
By FaceMaster on 6/4/2010 3:45:25 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
6 people locked in a capsule eating canned and frozen goods for 520 days is more of a psychology experiment more than anything.


I'm guessing you've never been to University


RE: I wonder...
By Spookster on 6/4/2010 12:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
Or ever been in the military.


RE: I wonder...
By rudolphna on 6/4/2010 9:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
Mass Effect.... Awesome game, would be even more awesome if that turned out to be true, and Charon really is a massive alien device that could connect us with dozens of other intelligent species. Oh well.


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