Mars 500, a 520-day simulation of Mars expedition has ended:
Seventeen months of isolation is over for the six “marsonauts” who have been locked away in a complex in Moscow. The hatch of their simulated spacecraft opened at 14:00 Moscow time, when they were welcomed by the Mars 500 ground crew, doctors and their families.
The all-male crew, made up of Russian, Chinese, French and Italian volunteers, was isolated in a collection of interconnected modules for the duration of the 520-day experiment. It aimed to study the psychological effects of an interplanetary mission, including communication delays and long stretches of monotonous flight.
If they wanted to spend 18 months going nowhere, they could have just enrolled in graduate school. Much cheaper. Less spacesuits, though.
The would-be spacefarers spent more than 500 days in windowless isolation in a simulated mission to Mars that played out in a complex of chambers at a research centre in Moscow. Once sealed inside the crew’s only contact with the outside world was over the internet and by phone lines that carried a delay of up to 20 minutes to simulate the time it takes for radio signals to pass between Earth and Mars.
The crew of the $10m Mars500 project – three Russians, two Europeans and a Chinese man – return to the world safe in the knowledge that the medical, physical and psychological examinations they have endured for the last year and a half will prepare future astronauts for real journeys to far-flung planets
(via The Guardian)