520 days in a Mars simulator

Six men from Russia, Europe and China are preparing to spend 520 days together in a sealed-off warren to take a simulated trip to Mars to test how long isolation would affect humans.

On June 3, three Russians, an Italian-Colombian, a Frenchman and a Chinese man will be locked up in a set of cramped compartments as the record-breaking Mars500 simulated flight to the Red Planet gets underway to last until November 2011.
“This 520-day flight to Mars ... is unprecedented in its overall duration,” said Martin Zell, the European Space Agency head of the experiment. “I think when talking about a human mission to the Red Planet, it will probably still take 20 or, more likely, even 30 years to go there,” said Mr Zell, who is also in charge of ESA human missions to the $100-billion, 16-nation International Space Station.
The six men, allowed just three square meters of “personal space” each at the facilities at Moscow’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, will follow a seven-day week, with two days off, except when special and emergency situations are simulated.
The crew will live and work like ISS astronauts, and their life will resemble that of ISS members: maintenance, scientific experiments and daily exercise.
During the “surface operations” after 250 days, they will be divided, with three moving to the Martian “surface”, while the other three stay in the orbiting “spacecraft” for a month.
The six men will be monitored closely and their psychological and physiological parameters will be recorded. —Reuters

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