Spread the love people! I haven’t received a valentines card though (Awww!) At least 3 lucky men have a date, a date with the Red Planet. Well, what I ofcourse mean by that is a fake ‘Red Planet’. A large room in Moscow (or more precisely the Institute of Biomedical Problems) covered with redish sand and rocks, all made to look like the Martian surface. Why? It’s the Mars500 mission ofcourse. They successfully ‘landed’ on the surface on the 12th and today took their first steps onto ‘the surface of Mars’.
Whilst the rest of the crew ‘orbited’ Mars the ‘Marsonaut’ Diego Urbina took mans first simulated steps on the surface. He said:
“Europe has for centuries explored Earth, led by people like Columbus and Magellan.
Today, looking at this red landscape, I can feel how inspiring it will be to look through the eyes of the first human to step foot on Mars.
I salute all the explorers of tomorrow and wish them godspeed.”
What people sometimes forget about with a mission like this is communication. Even traveling at the speed of light, radio transmissions take 20 minutes to reach the Earth. This must be simulated to make it realistic and so a brief, simple talk between the Marsonauts and Mission Control Moscow will take a minimum of 40 minutes!!!
The room in which the crew are carrying out their Mars walk is fairly small. It has been specifically designed to reflect the conditions not just of Mars as a whole, but one of the most interesting parts of Mars. Gusev crater. Gusev is so exciting because it is an old lakebed. It shows evidence of Mars’ watery past. In fact the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed there back in 2004 and has found a wealth of extraordinary information!
The crew are set to perform a few more EVA’s, a few more science experiments and so on before heading back to their ‘orbiting’ ship and heading home. Perhaps the toughest part is yet to come, the highlight of the mission over and 8 months before arriving back home. But that’s what this mission is about. How can the human body cope, how can the human mind cope with such a long trip? This mission is really so important to our future exploration of the Red planet, it is there to find all the problems we don’t want occurring on a real mission. Personally I think these are some truly lucky guys!