Six Men Alone In A Box For A 17-Month Simulated Trip To Mars
520 days. That’s 12,480 hours, or how long a six-member, all-male team will be in a windowless mock spaceship to simulate a flight to Mars. The project, called Mars500, began yesterday, and is run by the Russian Institute for Medical and Biological Problems in conjunction with the European Space Agency ESA and China’s space training center.
All those hours and days in a little, windowless area could kill a man with boredom. That’s why the team has a plan to stay entertained during their mission. At some point during the 17 months, they will play a match with former chess champion Anatoly Karpov. They will also have Internet access but, to mirror conditions on the actual flight, the connection will suffer periodic interruptions.
They’ll have access to video games too, as part of the ESA’s project to “develop personalized software to interact with crews on future space missions,” according to a USA Today article published earlier this week. Any Starcraft champions among the crew?
Just in case anyone starts going all Sunshine crazy on the astronauts asses, any member may choose to walk out at any time, effectively ending the mission. The mission may also be terminated for medical or technical reasons.
Check back the second week of January, 2012 to see if the mission was successful.