The crew of ESA’s Mars 500 experiments “took off” from Moscow last 3rd June 2010 for an isolation experiment. The crew was composed by six “astronauts”: three Russians, a Chinese, a French and an Italian. The six men have been locked inside a few square meters module for 536 days (4 days remain). The aim the experiment is to observe the behaviour and psychological impact on the crew during the complete isolation. They had to carry out lots of experiments they had on board, just as it would be in real spacecraft.
The facility consisted in for hermetically sealed interconnected modules and an external module of mars surface simulator, with a total air volume of 550 cube meters in habitat modules.
The module (and the whole mission) has been a high fidelity simulation, including food, WC, shower, passtimes and communications with the Earth. The communications were cut for a week, and other day power was turned off, just to see how crew would react, and they did well, as they did with the other intentioned emergencies.
They have celebrated on board Halloween, Christmas, birthdays and Chinese new year. As said in the ESA’s webpage, “this helped to break the monotony of the mission”, which is important because the mission to Mars is not only the needed technology to arrive, there is a human psychological compound which is as relevant as the technological one.
This experiment is about to end, and has answered lots of essential questions, such as “are six astronauts able to live together without too much trouble during 540 days (trip to Mars)?” YES,THEY ARE! Astronauts also demonstrated that they are able to solve different problems appeared.
P.D.: All photos belong to ESA (European Space Agency)
The crew is back home now! Congratulations for all of them!