March 29, 2009

Russian experiment simulates Mars trip

Six volunteers are set to spend 105 days locked inside a series of tin enclosures set up in a Moscow parking lot to simulate a trip to Mars.

The ground exploration complex has been designed to duplicate conditions of a trip to Mars, The Guardian reported. The experiment is set to begin Tuesday in a parking lot in back of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems.

The group includes six Russians, a French pilot and a German army engineer. They will be monitored by cameras as they eat, sleep and work out in a miniature gym.

Their food will be pre-packaged and they will wash up with damp towels. The toilet in the complex is the same model as the one on the International Space Station.

The only contact with the outside world from the windowless capsules will be e-mail and a radio link with time delay like the one that would be experienced on a space mission.

Mark Belokovksy of the institute said with six people in a confined space tension is inevitable. In 1999, during a similar space trip, two men got into a fist fight after celebratory vodka was allowed on New Year's Eve.