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Some Mars on Earth
October 11, 2007 23:14

The Red planet

Next year Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems hosts a unique international experiment – a simulation of manned flight to Mars lasting for 520 days.

Said experiment is the first and very important stage, making future manned mission to Mars more real. The project imitates every condition of a flight to Mars that can be simulated on Earth. Some of these conditions include long-term isolation of the space crew in a totally enclosed room with limited space under conditions of self-sufficiency, delay in communication with the home planet and limited consumable resources. This living space will allow medics and other professionals to examine health and working capacity of the crew, to test the system of interaction between the crew and experiment control centre, to check efficiency of medical treatment, as well as tele-health technologies, to estimate crew’s psychological compatibility, to perform necessary tests of life support and safety systems and to conduct scientific experiments.


The experiment will take place in the system containing several specially built hermetical modules, in which crew members can communicate between themselves. Modules consist of individual cabins for crew members, a common room, workplaces for conducting medical and biological research, storage room and etc. All modules are equipped with systems of voice and video communications. Crew member will live in an artificial atmosphere. One of the modules will imitate surface of Mars, where three crew members will practice landing.

Flight simulation will have three stages – first is “flying” from Earth to Mars during 250 days, second is “staying at Mars’s surface”, taking up to 30 days (before that three crew members will spend up to 30 days under antiorthostatic hypokinesia, which imitates zero gravity) and “return flight” to Earth is the last but not the least stage, taking 240 days.

During pseudo-flight crew members will use 7-day week with two days off and work 8 hours a day, during which they will maintain ship systems, learn to control the “lander”, perform scientific experiments and control health, not to forget about physical exercises. The crew will train to behave in off-normal and emergency situations, for instance, in case of onboard systems and equipment failure. Crew members will have the same diet as the International space station dwellers.

The main stage of the “Mars-500” project starts in the end of following year, however, first part of the 2008 will be dedicated to a tentative simulation lasting for 105 days. All conditions for this preliminary test – crew, the enviroment and person specifications – are the same as for the main one. Moreover, another, 14-day long test of all technical systems is also required.


The crew of the “terrestrial flight” will be international, as well as the crew for the real mission to Mars. Test crew will include four Russian and two European citizens. Several Russian volunteers, including female candidates, are currently taking medical survey. As for Europeans, they have already submitted over 5 thousand applications.

Selection considers several criteria, age (between 25-50 years), almost perfect health, psychological stability and knowledge of at least two languages (English and Russian) among them. Following professions are in demand – medics, engineers, biologists, and computer technicians. Applications should be forwarded to email, provided below: imbp-mars500@) Project’s contact person is chief medical officer Kovalevich Irina Vasilievna.

Scientific experiments during the “Mars-500” project cover following fields: clinical and physiological studies, biochemical and immunological research, physiological psychology, small group psychology, sanitary and microbiological research, biological research, operation and technology experiments and database adjustment.

To have a research included into experiment’s scientific programme, an applicant should submit a request to Nechaev Albert Petrovich via imbp-mars500@) Project coordinator in the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems is Mark Samuilovich Belakovsky.

    Russian Science News
    Mars-500 official site

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Space     

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