11 oct 2021 21:49 GMT

The “analog astronauts”, a team made up of a woman and five men, will live in isolation for three weeks, conducting scientific experiments for future manned missions to the Red Planet.

This Monday began the isolation phase of the 13th Analog Mission to Mars of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), undertaken in conjunction with the Israel Space Agency, in which six people, pretending to be astronauts, will live and work in a specially developed habitat in the Negev desert, in Israel, with a view to preparing a manned exploration of the Red Planet.

During the mission, which is called AMADEE-20 and began at the Ramón Desert Mars Analog Station –or D-MARS, also located in the Negev desert–, more than 25 experiments will be carried out, two of them in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), according to the OeWF in a statement on its official website.

The team of “analog astronauts”, consisting of one woman and five men from Germany, Austria, Israel, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands, will conduct research aimed at facilitating future manned missions to Mars. To do this, they will remain isolated for three weeks in an environment that seeks to reproduce the conditions of that planet. In addition to science experiments, they will take walks in the open air in a prototype “spacesuit” developed and built by the OeWF.

From a geological point of view, the Mitzpé Ramón crater, 500 meters deep, located in the Negev desert, it approximates the conditions of Mars; however, temperatures of 25-30 degrees Celsius are considerably higher, even in winter.

More than 200 researchers from 25 countries participate in AMADEE-20, initially scheduled for last year but postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic. It is the thirteenth mission of its kind managed by the Austrian organizers. The previous ones were carried out in the Moroccan territory of the Sahara desert, in the state of Utah (USA), in Spain and in Oman.

The longest mission of this type, MARS-500, was carried out in Moscow (Russia) between 2007 and 2011, as an experiment of psychological isolation that lasted 520 days and in which Russian, European and Chinese crew members participated.

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