Researchers Simulate a Mars Mission in an Israeli Desert

Sunday, 18 February 2018 - 4:35PM
Sunday, 18 February 2018 - 4:35PM
Researchers Simulate a Mars Mission in an Israeli Desert
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Wikimedia Commons/Andrew Shiva
As we're slowly developing the necessary technology to transport humans to Mars, more and more people around our home planet are starting to prepare for a life on the Red Planet.

According to Reuters, a team of six Israeli scientists and participants recently simulated a mock Martian colony out in the Negev desert, which was a close enough environment to Mars in terms of its geology, isolation, and how arid it was. An entire habitat was set up in the desert, and the "astronauts" weren't allowed to leave unless they had a full spacesuit on.

The entire simulation lasted about four days, and was called the "D-Mars" mission (apparently short for "Desert Mars").

While various important factors relating to survival on Mars were explored, including satellite communications, how to measure radiation or check soil for bacterial life signs, and general effects that isolation on a foreign planet would have on the human psyche, the big purpose of the mission seemed to be drumming up interest in space, especially among students.

The team, in conjunction with the Israel Space Agency, has been documenting the whole mission as part of an outreach program, in the hopes that kids will see this and get excited about space travel in advance of the first Mars missions (which shouldn't be too far in the future now).

Participant and nuclear physics professor Guy Ron of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem echoed these sentiments in a statement to Reuters: 

Opening quote
"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."
Closing quote

This isn't the first time a mock Martian colony has been planned on an Earth desert to help us prepare. The United Arab Emirates is setting up a more permanent colony sometime in the near future, with the hopes of building an entire city that would reflect Mars' conditions

And with more plans for Martian habitats being set up by 3D printing teams working with NASA, as well as IKEA of all companies, we'll probably have a number of Mars-away-from-Mars colonies set up on Earth before too long.

Ideally, we'll actually be landing astronauts on Mars not soon after, but there's nothing wrong with preparing to avoid any The Martian scenarios.
Science News