Something extremely interesting – as well as scientifically curious – has been happening in recent weeks inside a natural crater in the south Israel. Six potential “Astronauts”, five men and a woman, live in a special structure – something like a “space base” that is also the most advanced space station of its kind now in the world – near Mitchepe Ramon, in the Negev desert, in a natural environment so deserted and inhospitable, so that it really reminds visually of Mars, as everywhere are dominated by huge dunes, deep craters and large stony landscapes.
The purpose of the experiment – a joint venture of the always active Israeli Space Agency and an Austrian association, the Austrian Space Forum – is to simulation, επί a continuous month, of the life of a future space mission to the Red Planet. Because this mission may be delayed and estimated to take place in a little over a decade from today, but this does not mean that the local Space Authorities should not be prepared in advance for such an eventuality.
Inside this peculiar “space base”, at a depth of 500 meters and a width of 40 kilometers, lives the German astronaut Anika Melis, the only woman on the team, a microbiologist and study a hypothetical scenario in which bacteria from Earth would infect possible life forms on Mars, while trying to find ways to deal with this “Extremely difficult scenario”, as she admits.
The The rest of her colleagues in this accommodation with an area of 120 square meters, wear regular space uniforms with intercom and microphones, they move with a specially designed electric vehicle and will have to perform various tests such as operating a different drone, which works without GPS, as well as detection vehicles that operate only on solar and wind energy.
But one of the main objects of research is the effect of these conditions on human behavior and the consequences of isolation on so-called astronauts.
“Team cohesion and the ability to work together are key to our survival on Mars,” he said. Gernot Gremer, head of the Austrian mission, who points out, however, that in southern Israel in October, external conditions are not so reminiscent of the planet Mars, but are completely different: “Here we have temperatures of 25-30 degrees Celsius, while on Mars the temperature is at -60 degrees”, reminds.
For this reason, the astronauts are also under constant surveillance, while, in any case, their vital signs are constantly recorded.
Throughout the simulation, which will be completed on October 31, There will be 20 geological, biological and medical experiments, the results of which will be announced by the end of the year. So. then we will know better if it… “takes” us to set up an entire human colony on one of our galaxy’s most inhospitable and “hostile” planets.
When American astronauts were trained in Iceland
This is certainly not the first time that potential astronauts have been trained in simulation conditions in a demanding terrestrial environment, as NASA has done in the past. sent nine of the 12 Americans who conquered the moon to train in Husavik’s lunar and rocky landscape in Iceland.
In the summer of 1967, two years before the conquest of the Moon, NASA chose the volcanic island to train its astronauts. Iceland was chosen because, from a purely geological point of view, it has the most lands inherent in the Moon, so it is ideal for their study and their walks on them in full astronautical attire.
“The Apollo astronauts’ exposure to Icelandic geology contributed significantly to their experience as they prepared to explore and sample lunar soil,” he said. Harrison Schmidt, lead analyst on the Apollo 17 space program.
And indeed, American astronauts did encounter and became acquainted with tectonic formations or remnants of volcanic lava flows, similar to those they would experience a few years later on a purely lunar landscape, many thousands of miles away from Earth.
In fact, two years ago, on the occasion of the completion of half a century since the first time man stepped on the Moon, it was founded in Husavik in “Space Exploration Museum”, which opened its doors to the Icelandic and international public, hosting a series of special events.