Four NASA scientists return after a year “on Mars” – rts.ch

Four NASA scientists return after a year “on Mars” – rts.ch
Four NASA scientists return after a year “on Mars” – rts.ch

They were “alone on Mars”. Four scientists completed a 378-day mission in Martian conditions for NASA in Houston, USA, on Saturday. The mission’s goal: to better prepare for a possible human settlement on the red planet.

Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and team leader Kelly Haston spent 378 days trapped in a “Mars habitat” in Houston, Texas, as part of a NASA study.

All the while, they grew vegetables, walked on red sand and labored under “additional stressors” including isolation, confinement and slowed communication with “Earth” and their families.

How to feed yourself on the red planet?

The four scientists exiting the Mars Dune Alpha experiment: Kelly Haston (foreground) and Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and Anca Selariu (back, left to right). [AFP – JOSE ROMERO]

The four comrades lived in “Mars Dune Alpha”, a 160 square meter structure built by 3D printers with bedrooms, gym, common areas and even a vertical farm to grow their own food.

In another area separated from the habitat by an airlock and covered with red sand, the scientists carried out their “Martian walks”.

The team spent its entire mission “conducting critical science, primarily based on nutrition, and determining its effects on their performance (…) as we prepare to send humans to the Red Planet,” said Steve Koerner, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Send humans to the Moon and then to Mars

It was the first of three missions in NASA’s Analogue project to explore crew health and performance. Another one-year mission simulating life on Mars had already taken place between 2015 and 2016 in a habitat in Hawaii, but although the American agency participated, it was not in command.

As part of its Artemis program, Washington plans to send humans back to the Moon to better understand how to live far from Earth in the long term and thus prepare for a trip to Mars that could take place in the late 2030s.

afp/dk

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