Media opportunity: ESA presents European participants in 520-day simulated mission to Mars

Press Release From: European Space Agency
Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010

image A crew of six, including two Europeans, will soon begin a simulated mission to Mars in a mockup that includes an interplanetary spaceship, a Mars lander and a martian landscape. The Mars500 experiment, as long as a real journey to Mars, will be second to none as the ultimate test of human endurance.

Four ESA-selected Europeans, Belgian Jerome Clevers, Arc'hanmael Gaillard and Romain Charles from France and Colombian-Italian Diego Urbina, started the mission training at the end of February with the other crew-members at the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow. Two of these four candidates will be selected as European participants in Mars500. This first full-duration simulated mission to Mars will start in a special human habitat at IBMP in Moscow next summer.

The Mars500 name comes from the blueprint for a possible human Mars mission in the future using conventional propulsion: 250 days for the trip to Mars, 30 days on the martian surface and 240 days for the return journey, totalling 520 days.

Apart from the technical challenges, the big question on a long mission to Mars is the human factor: how best to select and prepare humans to mentally and physically endure a spaceflight of at least one and half years - possibly much longer - in a closed environment, seeing the same faces, under constant stress and isolated from family and friends on Earth.

The European candidates who will help to answer these fundamental questions will be presented to the media on 22 March 2010 at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Media representatives wishing to attend the event are kindly requested to fill in the attached accreditation form and return it by fax to the ESA Headquarters Media Relations Office by 18 March 2010.

For more information:

Markus Bauer
Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer
ESA Communications Department
Tel: + 31 71 565 6799

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