Six Israeli researchers on Sunday concluded their four-day mock Mars mission in the Negev desert, where they conducted a habitat experiment to simulate the living conditions on the Red Planet.
Mock Mars Mission
The mission was conducted in a D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station) facility near the isolated Mitzpe Ramon, where the surroundings resemble the environment in Mars in terms of appearance, geology, aridity, and desolation.
During the simulations, the so-called Ramonauts consumed food from capsules, lived in confined quarters, and wore spacesuits every time they leave their pod to conduct experiments. They conducted investigations on the psychological effects of isolation, satellite communications, and radiation measurements. They also searched for signs of life in soil.
"One of the challenges we are trying to crack is building a spaceship and a motor that can fit in the long journey, the effect of cosmic rays on humans, leading and building a structure , living in a small isolated group, communicating with the Earth," said Avi Balesberger, director of the Israeli space agency.
Objectives Of The Project
Nuclear physicist Guy Ron, from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who was one of the six scientists who took part in the Mars habitat experiment, said that the objective of the project was not limited to finding new approaches that can help prepare for a future Mars mission. It also aims to increase public interest.
"D-Mars is half about the research, and the other half is about the outreach. A major part of this project is getting public interest and getting students interested in space," Ron said.
Organizers of the D-Mars project hope that the mission in the Negev desert would place Israel in the forefronts of human space exploration.
"Establishing the D-MARS space analog mission in the Negev Desert will allow Israel to make a significant contribution to the world-wide effort to prepare humanity for the exploration of the planet Mars and our solar system, while also benefiting the economy, technology development and educational community of the state of Israel as a whole," the D-Mars project website reads.
Mars Simulation Projects
The D-Mars project is one of the Mars simulation projects being undertaken worldwide. Another mock Mars mission has also just started in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project, which aims to determine how humans will be able to endure the isolation of a Mars mission, includes participants from Korea, Australia, Slovakia, and Scotland. The researchers began their eight-month stay inside a dome habitat on top of the Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, last week.