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15 Apr, 2010 06:05

Scientists launch mock expedition to Mars

Russian and European scientists are locking a team of enthusiasts in a module to find out if an expedition to Mars can become a reality. The volunteers are to spend 520 days in compete isolation.

Participants are being carefully chosen out of several hundred candidates from Russia and Europe. Only six people out of twelve semi-finalists sent to Moscow will take part in the final project.“One of our main goals is to figure out how to recruit crew members for a possible flight to Mars, so that during the real thing we will have a better chance of preventing conflicts that may sabotage the mission,” explains Valery Yesin, the project’s chief specialist.All candidates had to complete over a thousand psychological tests and must have a degree, but smarts alone might not be enough to live locked up face-to-face with others for one-and-a-half years.Participants will conduct around 100 experiments and will even have to deal with some conditions of a real space flight, such as a 20-minute delay in connection with mission control and real space food.“I had doubts at first but the more I got involved the more interested I became. We're going to have a great time here,” says candidate Sukhrob Kamolov enthusiastically.The spaceship used in the experiment is made up of living, utility and medical modules. It also has a steam sauna, a gym and a small greenhouse.There is even a simulator of the Martian landing capsule and a special room that simulates the Martian surface. Walking here will be part of the test.Earlier another crew lived in the same module for 105 days without incident, but the upcoming project may take much more out of the participants as it will last almost five times longer.