Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Martian Experiment

A trip to Mars is not an early prospect. The United States has set plans to return to the Moon by 2018 and later head to Mars, but without setting a date. However The European Space Agency (ESA) yesterday called for applications for one of the most demanding human experiments in space history: a simulated trip to Mars in which six "astronauts" will spend 17 months in an isolation tank on Earth.

Their "ship" will comprise a series of interlocked modules in an research institute in Moscow, and once the doors are closed tight, the volunteers will be cut off from all contact with the outside world except by 40 minute delayed radio link. They will face simulated emergencies, eat ration packs, have daily work routines and experiments, as well as boredom and, no doubt, personal friction from confinement in just 550 cubic metres, the equivalent of nine truck containers.

The goal is to gain experience about the psychological challenges that a crew will face on a trip to Mars. Four of the crew will be Russian, and two will come from countries that are members of ESA, so 12 European volunteers are needed to fill those two spaces taking into account redundancy and backup.

A precursor 105-day study is scheduled to start by mid-2008, possibly followed by another 105-day study, before the full 520-day study begins in late 2008 or early 2009, so if you think you've got the right stuff download the application form here.

I myself am already a trained Marine Corps Flight Officer Astronaut for the purpose of weapons testing in space and would only be called to Mars if hostile life (or peaceful life that just looks too weird so we'd have to kill it anyway) is discovered there.

Source: Yahoo

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