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10 February 2011 @ 08:38 am
Mars-500 heading for "landing" on "Mars"  
Word count: 49307 | Since last entry: 1936

As you may recall, my MDRS-88 crewmate Diego Urbina was selected to participate in the Mars-500 project, a full 520-day simulated voyage to Mars and back. He and five other guys have been locked in a tin can in Moscow for 250 days now, and their simulated spacecraft is now in simulated orbit around simulated Mars. They have just docked with the landing module, which was sent ahead and has been waiting for them in Martian orbit full of supplies they will use on the long trip back. In a few days, Diego and two of his crewmates will undock and descend to the Martian surface for ten days of Mars exploration.

I've been following Diego on Twitter and the following series of tweets was just so lovely I had to share it:

still moving stuff to the martian module, getting ready to start the hard orthostatic intollerance test

it simulates what happens when you transition from 0g to martian gravity

last night was the last one in the orbital module, tonight I'll start sleeping with head down @ 12 deg

and wearing in the day pants that confine blood to the upper body, 3 days later I remove the pants and see what funky things happen

oh but let me tell you more about an orthostatic intollerance test in the words of the expert in charge:

"Orthostatic test can be accompanied by deterioration of state of health, occurrence of weakness, dizziness..."

"...a short breath, a nausea, sweating and, as a last resort, development of an unconscious condition"

people in the street just call it "falling in love"

Also, here's a cool five-minute video from the ESA about Mars-500 and its current status.

Kalimackalimac on February 10th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
It's marvellous that they're testing this out, but what croggles me is the crushing effect of enduring so much simulation without getting to experience the real thing. I mean, you were only on your Mars for a week, and at least you got the weird landscape for your trouble.

When Gemini 7 tested out the effect on the human body of a moon-voyage's worth of weightlessness, that was only two weeks, and even that seemed pushing it. Two weeks in an orbiting men's room, I believe Lovell described it as afterwards.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on February 10th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Although I wouldn't volunteer for such an extensive simulation myself, I can see the value of the experience to the participants as well as to the scientists studying it. For one thing, Diego wants to be an astronaut, and you know this will look great on his resume...
threeoutsidethreeoutside on February 11th, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
I assume they'll have medical staff on hand...? That sounds very uncomfortable, at the least, dangerous at the worst, and I admire those folks for their courage! And their dedication. Who knows what kind or how many facts they'll provide that will make the real trip and stay safer? Wowser.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on February 11th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC)
They are well provided with doctors, I assume, as the project is housed at the Institute for Biomedical Problems in Moscow and the whole point of the exercise is to research the medical and psychological effects of the long confinement. There have been two previous "flights," of about 100 days' duration.