Space agency wants ‘Mars’ volunteers

The European Space Agency (ESA), whose operational centre is in Noordwijk, is looking for volunteers to take part in a simulated 500-day journey to Mars. Two of the six volunteers will be Europeans and the experiment will take place in Moscow starting next year.

The aim is to make the experiment as realistic as possible says Marc Heppener, ESA’s head of scientific research. ‘The lights going out or someone getting appendicitis will not be sufficient reason to stop.’ A number of disasters and near-disasters will also be simulated.
The aim is to determine what the psychological and physical affects of a manned mission to Mars would be. In 2003 ESA launched Europe’s first ever spacecraft to Mars.
The volunteers will be isolated in metal tanks for 18 months. The tanks will be fitted out for different functions such as a medical unit, research lab, kitchen and living quarters.

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