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Living in a box, living in an expensive box... Answered

Four Europeans are in the final stages of selection to be locked into a series of sealed boxes for a year and a half.

They are competing for two of the six places in Mars500 - a full-scale simulation of a short-stay Mars mission (a year and a half each way, a month on the surface - don't get me started on how wasteful that is...).

The Mars500 facility, which is located on the IBMP site in Moscow, comprises four sealed modules. The total interior volume is about 550 cubic metres. There are no windows.

The walls in the living quarters have been covered with a wooden panelling to make them feel slightly less austere.

Looking after the participants' needs will be a mission control-room sited just outside the containers.

But the experiment's designers are determined to make the training exercise as realistic as possible, so they will introduce a time delay in communications after two months.

Because it can take about 20 minutes for a message to travel from Mars to Earth, it will take this amount of time in the simulation also.

Message delay

The crew and their ground controllers will send text messages to each other and then have to wait for the replies.

It means there can be no real-time conversations with friends and family - and, in moments of crisis, it will mean the crew will have to make crucial decisions themselves.

I think the biggest test will be the social side - how will six humans, no matter how well-selected, deal with having nobody but each other for years on end, and being in each others' faces twenty-four hours a day?

Could we end up looking at the first murder in space?

BBC Story

ESA article

Institute for Biomedical Problems

10 Replies

gmjhowe (author)2010-03-23

 One would assume that the final mission would involve 6 members that are already working as part of a team - Which would mean the test might not be 100% accurate.

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NachoMahma (author)gmjhowe2010-03-23

No test like this will be 100% accurate - the subjects know they are still on Earth. But it should still give a pretty good indication of what can happen.

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Kiteman (author)gmjhowe2010-03-23

The thing is, no matter how good a team is, they get "me time", and time with people who are not part of the team.

In this simulation - and the real mission - they won't even be able to have a real-time conversation with people outside the box.

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Kryptonite (author)2010-03-23
kelseymh (author)Kryptonite2010-03-23

It should be fine...as long as they don't recruit someone named Donner....

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PKM (author)2010-03-23

I'd imagine they will run a selection process to find a real-life John Boone to make sure that everyone in the spaceship gets along together :)

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lemonie (author)2010-03-22

Do they get a "Desert Island Discs" choice I wonder?


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=SMART= (author)lemonie2010-03-22

Hahahaha yea its exactly like that !!

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