ESA Seeks Candidates for Simulated 'Missions to Mars' in 2008/2009
Human explorers on Mars may one day help in the search for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.
In preparation for future human exploration missions to Mars, the European Space Agency (ESA) is currently looking for volunteers to take part in a 520-day simulated Mars mission.
Human missions to Mars are still a dream of today's mission planners and one of humankind's last great challenges. But one day some of us will be on precisely that journey to the Red Planet - a journey with no way out once the spaceship is on a direct path to Mars.
The men and women selected to explore Mars will have to take care of themselves for almost two years during the roundtrip mission. Their survival will be in their own hands, but they will also rely on the work of thousands of engineers and scientists back on Earth.
The crew will experience extreme isolation and confinement. They will lose sight of planet Earth. A radio message will take 40 minutes to travel to Earth and then back to the space explorers.
A human mission to Mars is a bold vision for the time beyond the International Space Station. However, preparations have already started today. They are geared and committed to one goal: to send humans on an exploration mission to Mars, individuals who will live and work together in a spaceship for over 500 days.
Can humans someday make Mars our home away from home?
In order to investigate the human factors of such a mission, ESA has teamed up with the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) and will send a joint crew of six on a 520-day simulated mission to Mars.
The simulation follows the mission profile of a real Mars mission, including an exploration phase on the surface of the planet. Nutrition will be identical to that provided on board the International Space Station.
The simulations will take place here on Earth inside a special facility in Moscow. A precursor 105-day study is scheduled to start by mid-2008, possibly followed by another 105-day study, before the full 520-day study begins in late 2008 or early 2009.
ESA is looking for 12 volunteers who are ready to participate in the simulations and thereby help to support the preparations of the real thing: a mission to Mars. Four volunteers will be needed for each of the three simulations. The selection procedure is similar to that of ESA astronauts, although there will be more emphasis on psychological factors and stress resistance than on physical fitness.
Interested?For detailed information on this Call for Candidates and for the application form please refer to: http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/callforcandidates.
Alongside such dedicated space mission simulations, a complementary approach to understand the complexities of human health and behavior is to look at analogue environments. These are operational environments, which, through their natural situation produce some similar constraints as, for example, a mission to Mars.
ESA has already been active for some years in the Antarctic Concordia research station. In support of the scientific and technical projects there, ESA is looking for one person (each year) with a medical background. The details of that Call for Candidates can also be found at the web address indicated above.
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