Mars500, Welcome Back To Earth

Mars500, Welcome Back To Earth, Full Duration Simulation Of Mars Mission Ends Nov. 4

Since June last year, the six crewmembers of a simulated mission to Mars have been isolated in a special facility near Moscow. They will ‘arrive back on Earth’ on 4 November and go into quarantine for four days for medical checks.

Mars500's official 'One-year-in-isolation' photo. 
Credits: ESA 

Mars500 is the first full-duration simulation of a human mission to Mars, in a space infrastructure mock-up faithfully replicating almost all aspects of real spaceflight – except for weightlessness, radiation and actual interplanetary spaceflight.

During the almost 1.5-year duration, the international crew comprising two Europeans, three Russians and one Chinese have ‘flown’ to Mars, ‘landed’ on their destination planet and made several spacewalks on the look-a-like martian terrain. They have been faced with monotony, delayed communications and complete lack of daylight in their windowless habitat

During the Mars500 simulated mission, Diego Urbina used tools that were designed originally for the Russian manned Lunar missions in 1960's and 1970's. The missions were cancelled, but much of the hardware is remaining. Here he is using some of these tools during the 'Marswalk'.
Diego using tool designed for Russian Lunar mission
Credit: ESA

The crew consists of ESA-selected Diego Urbina (Italian/Colombian) and Romain Charles (French); Sukhrob Kamolov, Alexei Sitev and Alexandr Smoleevski from Russia; and Wang Yue from China.

Authentic human endeavour

Before humankind will be able to travel beyond low Earth orbit in the not-too-distant future, many challenges have to be met and technical problems have to be solved.

Apart from challenging vehicle technology, one of the biggest unknowns is human behaviour, and how interactions between the crewmembers are affected during a long stay in a confined space and under stress. This was the main focus of the Mars500 experiment.

The crew has been conducting dozens of experiments, producing data that help scientists, engineers and operators to evaluate what the space travellers of the future will go through.

During the period, the crew performed as a unified and stable team. There were no significant conflicts, and the difficult 'journey' was completed as a real crew would conduct a live mission to Mars.

ESA is inviting together with Roscosmos and Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) members of media to a press conference with the crew and to meet scientists responsible for the experiment.

Source: ESA