Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Let's All Pretend To Go To Mars!

The ESA is looking for volunteers to participate in a simulated Mars mission. Six people, 17 months, 19,250 cubic feet. They obviously won't be able to simulate weightlessness, but they are trying to simulate as many elements of a mission to Mars as they can, including the increased time delay in communication as they get further into their mission. The ESA hopes to learn about the psychological effects of a long term mission.

Of course, I'm not sure a trip to Mars would actually be that short. It may take 250 days to get to Mars, but once you're there, you aren't spending just a day there. In fact, you may have to camp out there for two years while you wait for Mars to get into a position that will allow you to use the least fuel for the return trip home. That means building shelters, setting up hydroponics for food and oxygen production, and being away from your loved ones and gases for the better part of 3 years. Even assuming you have plenty of fuel to get back in the same amount of time it took to get there right away, if you take that much time to get some place, you're not just going to stop in for a spot of tea. If humans go to Mars, it will be to colonize, not site see (well, okay, maybe a little of both).

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