It just wouldn't be a MARS UPDATE week without checking in with Roskosmos and seeing what the Mars500 chaps are up to! Aside from cabin fever, that is.
Very. Serious. Scientists.
After leaving their Marswalk activities behind in March, our intrepid explorers began the long journey back to planet Earth -- continually monitoring the health and psychological stamina of the crew.
One particularly interesting simulation-about-isolation took place in April, where they conducted a complete communications blackout for the space ship. Due to severe disruptions by solar storms (something that could definitely happen on a real Mars voyage!), the crew had no news, no email, no audio or videograms from anyone in the outside world... not even from Mission Control!
In some cases, such total isolation can be damaging, and at the very least, nerve wracking... as evidenced by their later tweet: "What if we came back online [after the storm] and there was no one outside?"
However, this type of training is designed to ensure such autonomy is motivating -- bringing the crew together in times of challenge or uncertainty, and hoping we found the right mix of people who can work as a team in any environment.
They took time in their schedule to celebrate Yuri Gagarin on the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight, continually remembering him as source of inspiration in helping the world to understand that the benefits of our exploration outweigh the dangers. Interestingly, none of the Russians weighed in, but we'll take their reverence as a given!
I was particularly moved by the responses of Diego Urbina, and if that name sounds familiar, it's because I also just mentioned Diego in the last post about MDRS crew, as he has now participated in Mars simulations on two continents.
Also! Big news coming up! Today marks Day #360, so this week will be a very exciting time , in that the crew will reach the one-year milestone in their ship. An entire calendar year in a simulation for science. What amazing commitment! And from there, it will still be 155 days to go until landing...
Join the crew next week on their many organizational sites and social media spots for all the anniversary buzz:
Mars500 Official Site at RU - http://mars500.imbp.ru
Mars500 Site at ESA - http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars500/index.html
Mars500 YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/Mars5OO
Mars500 Twitter Feed - http://twitter.com/#!/Mars_500
Mars500 Google Blog - http://mars500main.appspot.com/
Steve Légère Mars500 Letters - http://mars500.wordpress.com/
And of course if you query Mars500 on Facebook, you will now find many groups and fan pages sharing news items about this record-setting simulation program. Amazing how these have grown over the past year...!