Mars500 Crew Looks Toward Arrival on “Earth”

Diego's impression of Sasha working on the surface during our 'Marswalk' Credits: ESA / Mars500

Mars500: Earth approaching!

Diego Urbina gets philosophical in his most recent diary from the Mars500 modules, just shy of 520 days in isolation. From Sasha’s birthday to the importance of the arts on space missions, Diego covers both with a skillful drawing and touching text.

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13 October 2011.

It’s early morning in the spaceship modules. Of course, there is no way to tell it is morning except by the sounds of the other guys’ blood pressure machines making that noise: ‘Brrrrrrr’. The pressure is read aloud by a female voice in the machine, telling you how healthy you are. Blood pressure can go up with stress, salt consumption and many other kinds of things. No stress today: it’s almost day 500 out of 520, and if your blood pressure or heart rate is exceptionally high, it’s surely not stress: it would have to be your heart keen to land on Earth.

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Cool Video: The Mars500 Crew’s Blue Light Experiment

The Mars500 crew is only two months from their ‘arrival’ back on Earth and they can’t wait to see the sunlight. To prepare for that and to understand more about how the human brain reacts to variations of day and night and adjusts the sleep-wake cycle, the marsonauts are wearing red glasses andilluminating their modules with blue light. Diego explains about the photopigments in our eyes and and shows how the experiment is done. After all, life inside the Mars500 ‘spacecraft’ is all about the science!

Mars500 Crew Hits 1 Year Inside, Five Months to Go

ESA PR — 3 June 2011 — The six men in the Mars500 facility near Moscow have been in isolation now 365 days. The European crewmembers have been writing in their latest letters home about the highlights, monotonous life, team spirit and determination to go on.

“Wow, it’s already been a year,” begins Diego Urbina, one of the two Mars500 crewmembers from ESA, in his latest diary entry.

“One way to visualise it is if you think of what you were doing exactly one year ago, and then picture yourself living in a windowless metal box from then!”

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Video: Mars500 Crew’s Adventures on the Red Planet

The highlight of the Mars500 was landing to Mars. Diego and Romain are showing in this long video all what happened during exiting February at the Mars500 modules.

The Mars500 crew arrived virtually at Mars on 1 February and – as the mission description goes – docked there with a lander, found it full of cargo and transferred it to their spacecraft. After careful preparations three crewmembers (Diego Urbina, Alexandr Smoleevskiy and Wang Yue) entered the lander on 8 February and they ‘landed’ on Mars. Romain Charles, Alexey Sitev and Sukhrob Kamolov continued to ‘orbit’ Mars and followed their friends as they made three ‘Marswalks’, then rejoined them on 27 February after ‘docking’ with the orbital vehicle.

This video is a compilation of the material they recorded during this key period of the Mars500 isolation study.

Mars500 Diary: Walking on the Red Planet


Now that the Mars500 crew has been united, when the Marswalkers, ‘returned’ from the surface of the Red Planet to join the ‘orbital’ trio, Diego Urbina has again had time to send his thoughts. This diary was written on 21 February, before the last egress to the simulated martian surface.


The last few weeks have been truly exciting. As you probably know, Wang, Aleksandr and I, transferred to the landing module, have been living in further isolation, in a reduced room (about 50 cubic metres) for a couple of weeks, in order to represent the landing on Mars.

In spite of it not being the real Red Planet, it did mean so much in our ‘microcosmos’ that I think that even if it wasn’t exactly the same emotion someone would feel on Mars, it did come quite close, at least for me.

After transferring, we initiated the operations that a crew would need to do on Mars. We used a software called ‘Virtu’ that simulates several environments and situations. One of the scenarios was this: imagine a pressurized rover that we had to drive from our base to the (purposely hidden and difficult to reach) landing place of a probe that had been sent to Mars before the manned mission. It was quite tricky, especially when coming back to the base, when a sandstorm and drained batteries made our road tougher.

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Mars500 Diary: Walking on Mars

Diego Urbina and Alexandr Smoleevskiy on one-hour 12-minute Marswalk on Monday, 14 February 2011 at the simulated martian terrain of the Mars500 experiment facility in Moscow. Credits: ESA / IPMB

Mars 500 Diary: Unpacking the Lander and preparing for a hike on Mars
by Romain Charles
9 February 2011

In the latest diary Romain writes about opening the hatches to the cargo-filled Lander, emptying it and preparing for the big event: ‘landing’ on Mars and going out for a walk!

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Mars500 Update: “Astronauts” Walk on “Mars”

ESA PROGRAM UPDATE

Three crewmembers of the virtual flight to Mars have ‘landed’ on their destination planet and two of them today took their first steps on the simulated martian terrain. The highlight of the Mars500 mission lasted for one hour and 12 minutes, starting at 13:00 Moscow time.

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Mars500 Crew Enters Orbit Around Red Planet

Mars500 crewmembers testing the Russian Orlan suits before their mission started in early June 2010. Credits: IBMP/ Oleg Voloshin

Mars500 ‘arrives’ in orbit around Mars
ESA Press Release
2 February 2011

The first full-duration simulation of a manned voyage to Mars has reached a major milestone: the ‘spacecraft’ yesterday ‘arrived’ at Mars after 244 days of virtual interplanetary flight. Three crewmembers will ‘land’ on Mars on 12 February and make three sorties onto simulated martian terrain.

Mars500, a pioneering international study of the complex psychological and technical issues that must be tackled for long spaceflights, has been running for more than eight months in hermetically sealed modules imitating a Mars spacecraft at the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow.

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Mars500 Diary: Approaching the Red Planet

Whole Mars500 crew in portrait, September 2010: (clockwise from top left) Sukhrob Kamolov, Romain Charles, Diego Urbina, Yue Wang, Alexandr Smoleevskiy and Alexey Sitev. Credit: ESA

In this 11th Mars500 Mission Diary, Diego Urbina writes about the preparations for the ‘arrival’ at Mars on 1 February and about his feelings now that the action is hotting up.

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Mars500 Update: Darkness on the Edge of Mars

Of emergencies and Christmas trees – an exciting end to 2010
12 January 2011

In the 10th Mars500 Mission Diary, Romain writes about end-of-year excitements in the crew’s spacecraft mockup on their virtual journey to Mars. With almost half the mission completed, the crew is now counting the days to their ‘arrival’ in orbit around the red planet, on 1 February.


During the last few weeks we experienced two major events inside our Mars500 modules. First, an off-nominal situation left us for 20 hours without water, electricity and ventilation during the first two days of December. The second event is merrier: Christmas! Let me share with you how we went through these both.

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Video: Mars500 Diary No. 9

In this latest video from Mars500, Diego and Romain show some scientific experiments the crew is working with. The daily routine in the isolation includes not only joking and counting the days passing, but also plenty of serious work with science and maintenance of the facility. Despite the monotonous life, the spirit is still high – as this video shows!

Russia’s Roscomos Consolidates Cosmonaut Corps

ROSCOSMOS PRESS RELEASE

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov signed the Order “About Establishment of Roscosmos’ United Cosmonaut Corps” of Dec. 7, 2010. The order defines completion of Roscosmos Cosmonaut Corps establishment in GCTC by Jan. 1, 2011.

The Corps is to unite cosmonauts of three groups — GCTC, RSC-Energia and IBMP –- in a single infrastructure in order to “enhance cosmonaut selection and training effectiveness and to maintain coordinated national policy in human space missions.”

Editor’s Note: The move combines Russia’s 40 cosmonauts under one organization, according to Interfax-AVN. GCTC is the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, which has 22 cosmonauts, and IBMP is the Institute for Biomedical Problems, with a single cosmonaut. RSC-Energia has 17 cosmonauts.

Mars500 Crew Celebrates Halloween

No, the Mars500 crew hasn't gone crazy -- yet. They were just celebrating Halloween. Or so they say! (Credit: ESA)

Mars500 Diary
“Are we alone?”
10 November 2010
Courtesy of ESA

In his latest diary update, Diego explains the daily routine with a European experiment they are conducting inside the Mars500 modules, and also shows his Halloween photos, prompting the question: “Are we alone?”


As the days get longer and more monotonous in the Mars500 modules, we get more time to think about the conditions that surround us. One of the questions that crosses our minds from time to time is: “are we alone?” I am not talking about tortured souls that haunt the storage module on Halloween, or about life beyond Earth (the latter being a fascinating topic by itself), but about other actual living beings that might share this space with us, without us noticing.
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