Today, November 22nd, is Day #173 for the international crew of the Mars 500, who are conducting the largest and longest simulated voyage to planet Mars ever undertaken! What is Day 173 out of 520? One third of the way.
Their entire schedule is:
Phase 1... 250-day journey to Mars
Phase 2... 30-day surface exploration phase
Phase 3... 240-day journey back to Earth
A couple weeks back, they passed the milestone where they could finally say, "One year from now, we will finally get to go outdoors again!"
"Mars is the ultimate goal of the global human exploration programme," said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Human Spaceflight Director. "In addition to developing the necessary space infrastructure for exploration missions, ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight also has an ongoing programme of ground-based analogues and ISS research activities to make sure that our astronauts are as prepared as possible for the physical and mental demands of future long-duration exploration, and to develop countermeasures against any adverse effects of such a mission."
They make it sound so gilt-edged at the press conferences, don't they? And don't get me wrong, I love it when the administrators write, rehearse and deliver quotable-quotes. The real story, however, unfolds far from the glitterati.
As the project has progressed, the crews' logbook-style blog and Martian Chronicles media updates have become more popular (two have achieved a "heart throb" status of sorts in their home countries).
Recently, the more westernized fellows got to introduce Wang Yue to the concept of "Halloween" – with which he was hitherto unfamiliar. But he got into the spirit and improvised a great mummy costume. (However, I have no idea what the heck Alexey was supposed to be!)
Trick or Treat.
He's the one who looks like a sinister nun. Or is that the Grim Reaper, just squinting?
Updated diagrams of the Mars500 Isolation Facility in Russia have been uploaded, as well as greater detail in all the Crew Biographies as the men become better known throughout the space community and news outlets. Great stuff! Especially all the new video diaries, Q&A sessions with the Marsonauts, and their hilarious experience with barbering one another's hair while inside the space ship!
If you haven't been following along thus far, previous updates of the Mars500 are in my blog's Mars 500 Archive, and I'll check in again at their half-time show!