6 volunteers’ 105-day stay in small steel tins to help scientists prepare for Mars mission

March 29th, 2009 - 2:00 pm ICT by ANI  

London, March 29 (ANI): Six volunteers will be locked up in small steel tins off a parking lot in Moscow for 105 days scientists simulate a space rocket ride to Mars.

The cramped metal capsules will be connected by cables and corrugated metal pipes in a hanger at the back of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems (IMBP) in the Russian capital on Tuesday.

The objective behind this experiment is to recreate as closely as possible the atmosphere of a spacecraft racing through the solar system, bombarded by cosmic radiation.

The volunteers will include four Russians, a French airline pilot and a German army engineer. They will stay under constant camera surveillance so that the physical and psychological impact of their time in the isolation chamber can be recorded.

The subjects will eat packaged rations, wash with damp tissues, and spend several hours each day conducting experiments, just as astronauts would on a real space flight.

They will be using the same kind of toilet as crew on the international space station.

Mark Belokovksy of the IMBP believes that the psychological pressure of living in close quarters with five other human beings may crack even the toughest guinea pigs.

“Tension is inevitable,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

The capsules won’t have any windows, and the volunteers’ only contact with the outside world will be through an internal email system and a delayed radio link to the “control centre” positioned alongside the GEC.

Each team member will have a narrow bed and only three cubic metres of personal space.

They will have no access to TV or the Internet, though they may take along a bag with books and DVDs.

“Just like cosmonauts we will have eight hours sleep, eight hours work and eight hours for personal matters - intake of food, physical exercise and free time,” said Sergei Ryazansky, 34, a space research expert, who will lead the crew.

Furthermore, the team will have to deal with all medical problems on their own, except for severest emergencies.

Each member will have the right to quit the project at any moment without giving a reason.

Separate tests may be used to simulate the long-term effects of zero gravity because recreating weightlessness is possible only for brief periods in an aircraft.

The volunteers will receive a payment of 14,000 pounds, but Belokovksy said that money was not the main motivating factor.

“They are driven by the chance to take part in an experiment of international significance,” he said. (ANI)

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