Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

Half a dozen astronauts will spend the next four weeks pretending to be on Mars, living in a fake version of the Red Planet in Israel’s Negev Desert.

The mission will help to provide scientists with information on how humans cope in confined and unusual conditions, such as those they might experience on Mars.

While the crew, equipment and accommodation are in Israel, hosted by the Israel Space Agency, they will all be managed by ‘mission control’ at the Austrian Space Forum facility in Innsbruck, Austria.  

The latest simulation is known as AMADEE-20 and will see five men and one woman spend four weeks living in an Earth-based Mars analog facility, wear spacesuits when they step outside and even drive a rover.

This is the 13th ‘Analog Astronaut’ mission run by the Austrian Space Forum, a network of aerospace engineers and space enthusiasts creating technology and processes needed for a future crewed mission to Mars. 

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The crew will spend four weeks in and around this Mars analog habitat, designed to be similar in layout and function to the habitat real astronauts will experience when they visit Mars in the future

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

Robert Wild, a physicist and first responder, wears his space gear during the media day, before he, and five others go into isolation for the next four weeks

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake ‘Red Planet’ in Israel’s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

A couple of analog astronauts from a team from Europe and Israel walk in spacesuits during a training mission for planet Mars at a site that simulates an off-site station at the Ramon Crater in Mitzpe Ramon in Israel’s southern Negev desert

MARS SIMULATION: MISSION AIMS 

  • Study equipment behavior involving the simultaneous deployment of instruments and robotic vehicles with humans-in-the-loop, including research-grade spacesuit simulators
  • Develop platforms for testing life-detection or geoscientific techniques
  • Test robotic support tools providing a high situational awareness
  • Catalyze the visibility of planetary exploration 
  • Evolve the know-how of managing crewed missions to Mars by deploying a realistic Mission Support decision making framework
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It isn’t just the human experience being tested in the desert, as the crew will also simulate a range of human-robotic Mars surface activities.

These analogs have ‘evolved into an efficient tool for developing exploration mission architectures,’ according to the Austrian Space Forum, leading the mission.

‘They facilitate to understand the advantages and limitations of future Human planetary missions,’ the agency said in a statement. 

They are an ‘added value’ for the development of remote science operations, and help scientists understand the constraints and opportunities possible. 

The isolation phase started today and the crew will be confined and only able to chat to mission control until they are released on October 31.

Commander João Lousada will lead the mission, supported by Deputy Commander Iñigo Muñoz Elorza, with Anika Mehlis, Alon Tenzer, Thomas Wijnen and Robert Wild.

While in the secluded environment, the crew will carry out a range of experiments on behalf of universities around the world, from tests of locks and sensors, to human-interaction.

One human experiment was designed by Goldsmiths University of London called ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’.

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The experiment is taking place in the Negev Desert in Israel where the rock formations and red soil are similar to what future astronauts might see on Mars

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The mission will include drones, such as the one being held by Robert Wild, and rovers to mimic movement and exploration

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

It isn’t just the human experience being tested in the desert, as the crew will also simulate a range of Human-robotic Mars surface activities, including wearing spacesuits, such as this one being setup by a technician

This is a mindfulness technique based on behavioral science that is hoped will give a long-duration space crew the ability to cope in confined environments.

The aim is to mirror the real-world experience of future Martian astronauts as closely as possible, including sending them out in spacesuits, as would be the case on Mars.

This is to protect them from the harsh environment on the Red Planet, with freezing temperatures, lack of breathable atmosphere, and solar radiation.

The crew will be supported by a Mission Support Center in Austria, emulating the ‘ground segment’ of an actual Mars mission.

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The crew, including Commander Joao Lousada (pictured left) will examine all aspects of life in a Mars-like setup

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

They will have the ability to control fully automated rovers, and give mission control a chance to see how humans and robotics interact 

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The rovers will be similar to those that might be deployed to Mars with a crewed mission in the future, allowing the astronauts to explore further afield 

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

German astronaut Anika Mehlis and Austrian colleague Robert Wild work use laptop computers ahead of the mission

Meet the crew

Field Commander 

João Lousada, Portugal

ISS Columbus Flight Director, certified parachutist and master scuba diver, holds a private pilot license

Deputy Field Commander

Iñigo Muñoz-Elorza, Spain 

Training Manager at the Galileo Control Centre, certified skydiver, paraglider pilot and diver.

Other crew 

Anika Mehlis, Germany

Microbiology, Engineering for Environmental Technology and Recycling, open water diver.

Alon Tenzer, Israel

Mathematics, Computer Science and Aviation Science.

Thomas Wijnen, The Netherlands

Mathematics and Physics & Astronomy, scuba diving and parachute license.

Robert Wild, Austria

Physics, Wilderness First Responder, Advanced Open Water Diver.

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This includes operations teams, flight planners, remote science support and the infrastructure necessary to coordinate a complex set of experiments in the fields of engineering, geoscience and human factors. 

It is the 13th mission of its kind managed by the Austrian Space Forum, and is similar to missions run by other agencies, including NASA. 

Wearing the Austrian Space Forum’s Mars suit prototypes, the analog astronauts will perform more than 20 experiments in the fields of biology, medicine, psychology, geology and engineering. 

This will include spacesuit simulation, rovers and other vehicles that might run on Mars when humans visit, expected to happen sometime in the 2030s.

They will also develop platforms for testing life-detection or geoscientific techniques, that could be carried out on the real Mars. 

One of the major experiments is funded in part by the European Space Agency.

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The analog astronauts will test the MELT 3D printer and its ability to print aerospace-quality plastics in the frame of robotic and crewed planetary missions.

The aim is to investigate if 3D printing can support scientific operations in a remote and harsh environment, like Mars.

All of the experiments will use a ‘cascade’ process developed by the mission organisers to track progress and look for problems, so that they can be prepared for in a real environment. 

One project could even help with astronauts travelling to the Moon.

Project DEAR focuses on the effect of Regolith dust on optics, mechanisms and astronautic components – this is the sand and crushed rocks of Mars and the Moon.

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

Israeli astronaut Alon Tenzer prepares his spacesuit. Using the Austrian Space Forum’s specifically developed Mars suit prototypes the analog astronauts will perform more than 20 experiments in the fields of biology, medicine, psychology, geology and engineering

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

While technicians are currently on site, and will be staying nearby, the astronauts will be on their own for four weeks once the isolation period begins

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

Robert Wild and Alon Tenzer sit with their spacesuits on in a tent to cool off from the desert sun, before beginning training

TESTING 3D PRINTERS AND LUNAR DUST REMOVAL

Using the Austrian Space Forum’s specifically developed Mars suit prototypes the analog astronauts will perform more than 20 experiments in the fields of biology, medicine, psychology, geology and engineering.

MELT 3D

One of the major experiments is funded in part by the European Space Agency.

The analog astronauts will test the MELT 3D printer and its ability to print aerospace-quality plastics in the frame of robotic and crewed planetary missions.

The aim is to investigate if 3D printing can support scientific operations in a remote and harsh environment, like Mars.

PROJECT DEAR

Project DEAR focuses on the effect of Regolith dust on optics, mechanisms and astronautic components – this is the sand and crushed rocks of Mars and the Moon.

This project was originated due to the need for an effective Lunar dust cleaning method as the special chemical and physical properties from lunar dust are responsible for a lot of different difficulties during Lunar Expeditions.

Dust can make breathing for astronauts difficult and may trigger chronic respiratory problems, and has also a considerable negative impact on technical items.

Therefore, to remove lunar dust from equipment, different cleaning methods are being tested including blast cleaning with supercritical CO2jets, which will be tested on textile patches brought back from analog astronauts after the mission

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This project was originated due to the need for an effective lunar dust cleaning method as the special chemical and physical properties from lunar dust are responsible for a lot of different difficulties during Lunar Expeditions.

Dust can make breathing for astronauts difficult and may trigger chronic respiratory problems, and has also a considerable negative impact on technical items.

Therefore, to remove lunar dust from equipment, different cleaning methods are being tested including blast cleaning with supercritical CO2jets, which will be tested on textile patches brought back from analog astronauts after the mission.

The team will also evolve the know-how of managing crewed missions to Mars by deploying a realistic Mission Support decision making framework. 

That will include making use of delayed responses between mission control and the ground team, to simulate the communication time-delay between Earth and Mars. 

Gernot Grömer, Director of the Austrian Space Forum on the upcoming mission, said: ‘In the Israel Space Agency we have gained a strong and reliable partner for our next Mars analog mission.’ 

‘The Austrian Space Forum’s analog astronauts will perform more than 20 experiments in isolation to further facilitate the understanding of advantages and limitations of future human planetary missions.

‘Our mission architecture, the habitat as well as the 200 researchers from 25 countries involved make AMADEE-20 the biggest most complex Mars mission simulation in 2021.’

The test site is located in the Negev desert in southern Israel within the erosion structures of the Ramon Crater, a rare form of erosion structure that resembles various Martian surface features.

The test site offers a wide range of sand and rocky surfaces combined with a broad variability in inclination, comparable to Vallis Marineris on Mars. 

Also known as Mariner Valley, it is a vast canyon system that runs along the Martian equator just east of the Tharsis region. 

Valles Marineris is 2,500 miles long and reaches depths of up to four miles – much larger than the Grand Canyon, which is 500 miles long and one mile deep.  

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The specially designed habitat will be their home for four weeks, including waste recycling, food supplies and airlocks 

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

A team of six astronauts from (L to R) Iñigo Muñoz-Elorza, Alon Tenzer, Thomas Wijnen, Anika Mehlis, Robert Wild, and Commander Joao Lousada pose for a group photo

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

Alon Tenzer from Israel is seen here preparing his own spacesuit. The crew will test physical and mental experiments, including one designed to improve mindfulness and reduce any risk of resentment

NASA has also recently launched its own simulation, which will see four people, three women and one man, spend 45 days trapped in a capsule four times small than a tennis court to see if they could cope with a journey to Mars’ moon Phobos.   

The volunteer research subjects started their virtual journey to Phobos on October 1, in a ground-based habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The mission is designed to serve as an analog for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios, with the group re-emerging on November 15.

These experiments are designed to give agencies a better idea of how humans would interact and cope during a long space journey. 

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

The test site is located in the Negev desert in southern Israel within the erosion structures of the Ramon Crater, a rare form of erosion structure that resembles various Martian surface features.

NASA plans to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s after first landing on the Moon

Mars has become the next giant leap for mankind’s exploration of space.

But before humans get to the red planet, astronauts will take a series of small steps by returning to the moon for a year-long mission.

Details of a the mission in lunar orbit have been unveiled as part of a timeline of events leading to missions to Mars in the 2030s.

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

, Mars: Six astronauts are spending four weeks on a fake &#8216;Red Planet&#8217; in Israel&#8217;s Negev Desert, The Today News USA

Nasa has outlined its four stage plan (pictured) which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at he Humans to Mars Summit held in Washington DC yesterday. This will entail multiple missions to the moon over coming decades

In May 2017, Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at Nasa, outlined the space agency’s four stage plan that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars, as well as its expected time-frame.

Phase one and two will involve multiple trips to lunar space, to allow for construction of a habitat which will provide a staging area for the journey.

The last piece of delivered hardware would be the actual Deep Space Transport vehicle that would later be used to carry a crew to Mars. 

And a year-long simulation of life on Mars will be conducted in 2027. 

Phase three and and four will begin after 2030 and will involve sustained crew expeditions to the Martian system and surface of Mars.

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