More than 500 days of isolation with five other guys … could you do it? That is what one Chinese man, two European and three Russian men have been through to simulate what humans might encounter if they attempted to venture to Mars. They have missed seasons and friends and for one so-called “simulnaut” – a new wife.
The mock Mars mission ended and the crew emerged into the daylight in Moscow today after 520 days crammed inside a windowless capsule the size of a schoolbus.
See the 12-minute video of the hatch opening and some brief remarks from the crew here at the official Mars 500 page.
While cooped up in a Moscow suburb, they simulated a walk on the Martian surface, rationed their food and even communicated “back to Earth” with a 20-minute delay.
See Miles O’Brien’s story on the Mars500 project that we ran on the Newshour this past July.
We also talked with Miles about the piece and the psychological feat the researchers faced:
Keep in mind, this is as much a psychological test as it a physical one. Because unlike actual space travel, there is no weightlessness which can cause muscles to atrophy and bones to weaken from lack of strain. There was also no extended radiation in this experiment, the kind any future astronaut is likely to experience over long periods of space travel. There is also the small matter that an actual mission would take probably twice as long. The crews would land and do research for a year and a half.
Here is a slideshow from February when the simulated spaceship “landed” on planet Mars.