Six astronauts from different European countries go through a simulated experience in the desert of Israel trying to better understand what it’s like to live on Mars.
The mission, conducted by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), has six “analog astronautSpecially trained to live on a simulated Martian base in the Negev desert. They will remain in isolation for three weeks, conducting research for future missions to the Red Planet, in a period ending October 31.
The six astronauts are from Austria, Germany, Israel, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. They will conduct more than 25 experiments, including research on the mental and physical health of astronauts, special rovers, drones and more.
“Analog astronauts will live and work in a specially developed habitat for the mission,” OeWF said. “During activities outside the habitat, they will wear an elaborate spacesuit prototype, which was developed and manufactured by the OEWF.”
The suit prototype simulates wearing a pressurized space suit weighing 99 pounds (45 kg) by constraining the movements of astronauts.
“With our tailored research, we test equipment and processes and look for weak points so that everything runs smoothly in actual use,” said OEWF Director Dr. Gernot Gromer said.
Two analog astronauts leaving the habitat through the airlock (c) OEWF (Florian Vogender)
Gromer said there was a 10-minute delay in communication between the crew in Israel and the mission support center in Innsbruck, Austria. A small on-site support team will be available for technical problems and maintenance, but will not be allowed to interact with the astronauts.
In preparation for eventually sending astronauts to Mars, other space agencies have conducted or planned to conduct similar experiments.
in August, NASA started taking applications Inside a building at the Johnson Space Center in Houston — a 1,700-square-foot Martian habitat for four people to live in — for a full year. Paid volunteers will work on a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources, and equipment failures.
Participants must have a master’s degree or pilot experience in a science, engineering or mathematics field. They must be a US citizen or permanent US resident, between the ages of 30 and 55, in good physical health, without any dietary problems and not prone to motion sickness.
The US space agency is planning three of these experiments, the first of which will begin in the fall of 2022.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.