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September 26, 2018

Study suggests Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years

Study suggests Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years

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  • 26 September 2018: Study suggests Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years
  • 20 September 2018: NASA’s TESS spacecraft reports its first exoplanet
  • 31 July 2018: Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018
  • 19 July 2018: US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
  • 7 May 2018: NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

In a new study announced on Monday and available in the current volume of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, an international team led by scientists from Brown University in the United States said the planet Mars once had the right water and temperatures to host simple life forms — just not on its surface. Mars’s rocky, subterranean layer once, for some hundreds of millions of years, had enough water and reductants to support some of the same kinds of microbial communities seen on Earth.

“We showed, based on basic physics and chemistry calculations, that the ancient Martian subsurface likely had enough dissolved hydrogen to power a global subsurface biosphere,” reported lead author and current Brown graduate student Jesse Tarnas. The paper does not claim life on Mars did exist but rather that conditions suitable for life are very likely to have lasted for an extended time. This habitable zone, located beneath Mars’s then-frozen surface, would have reached several kilometers into Mars’s surface, potentially protected by ice above.

The study showed that, during Mars’s Noachian period (4.1–3.7 billion years ago), radiolysis, the process by which radiation splits water molecules apart, produced enough hydrogen gas (H2) for microbial organisms to live on so long as they remained within the area just beneath the cryosphere, the SHZ (subcryospheric highly-fractured zone). The concentration of hydrogen in the groundwater could have ranged from about 35 to about 55 millimolars depending on whether ancient Mars was warm or cold, respectively, and higher if the subsurface medium also contained enough salt. The researchers determined this by establishing three factors. First, they examined data from the gamma ray spectrometer aboard NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, from which they inferred how much of various radioactive elements would have been present in Mars’s crust during the Noachian, and therefore how much radiation would have been available to split water and so produce hydrogen. They then built on existing models of water flow on Mars to determine how much groundwater would have been present. Third, they used climate and geothermal modeling to determine how much of that water would have been in liquid form and at a suitable temperature for living things.

In subterranean environments on Earth called subsurface lithotrophic microbial ecosystems, or SLiMEs, ecosystems sustain themselves not on plants that harness sunlight through photosynthesis but on microbes that harvest electrons from nearby molecules. Molecular hydrogen is an especially good electron donor.

One of the study authors, Brown Professor John Mustard, is on the team designing the next Mars Rover mission, scheduled for 2020. He and Tarnas recommended the Rover examine the sites of meteorite crashes, which may have excavated rocks from this possibly habitable depth that may hold traces of ancient life.



Related news

  • “NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars” — Wikinews, May 7, 2018
  • “Curiosity Rover analysis suggests chemically complex lake once graced Mars’s Gale crater” — Wikinews, June 4, 2017
  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015

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September 25, 2018

Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years, say scientists

Mars hosted life-sustaining habitat for millions of years, say scientists

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  • 20 September 2018: NASA’s TESS spacecraft reports its first exoplanet
  • 31 July 2018: Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018
  • 19 July 2018: US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
  • 7 May 2018: NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars
  • 21 April 2018: NASA launches exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

In a new study announced on Monday and available in the current volume of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, an international team led by scientists from Brown University in the United States said the planet Mars once had the right water and temperatures to host simple life forms — just not on its surface. Mars’s rocky, subterranean layer once, for some hundreds of millions of years, had enough water and reductants to support some of the same kinds of microbial communities seen on Earth.

“We showed, based on basic physics and chemistry calculations, that the ancient Martian subsurface likely had enough dissolved hydrogen to power a global subsurface biosphere,” reported lead author and current Brown graduate student Jesse Tarnas. The paper does not claim life on Mars did exist but rather that conditions suitable for life are very likely to have lasted for an extended time. This habitable zone, located beneath Mars’s then-frozen surface, would have reached several kilometers into Mars’s surface, potentially protected by ice above.

The study showed that, during Mars’s Noachian period (4.1–3.7 billion years ago), radiolysis, the process by which radiation splits water molecules apart, produced enough hydrogen gas (H2) for microbial organisms to live on so long as they remained within the area just beneath the cryosphere, the SHZ (subcryospheric highly-fractured zone). The concentration of hydrogen in the groundwater could have ranged from about 35 to about 55 millimolars depending on whether ancient Mars was warm or cold, respectively, and higher if the subsurface medium also contained enough salt. The researchers determined this by establishing three factors. First, they examined data from the gamma ray spectrometer aboard NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, from which they inferred how much of various radioactive elements would have been present in Mars’s crust during the Noachian, and therefore how much radiation would have been available to split water and so produce hydrogen. They then built on existing models of water flow on Mars to determine how much groundwater would have been present. Third, they used climate and geothermal modeling to determine how much of that water would have been in liquid form and at a suitable temperature for living things.

In subterranean environments on Earth called subsurface lithotrophic microbial ecosystems, or SLiMEs, ecosystems sustain themselves not on plants that harness sunlight through photosynthesis but on microbes that harvest electrons from nearby molecules. Molecular hydrogen is an especially good electron donor.

One of the study authors, Brown Professor John Mustard, is on the team designing the next Mars Rover mission, scheduled for 2020. He and Tarnas recommended the Rover examine the sites of meteorite crashes, which may have excavated rocks from this possibly habitable depth that may hold traces of ancient life.



Related news[]

  • “NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars” — Wikinews, May 7, 2018
  • “Curiosity Rover analysis suggests chemically complex lake once graced Mars’s Gale crater” — Wikinews, June 4, 2017
  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015

Sources[]

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

September 24, 2018

Mars may once had habitat suitable for subterranean life, say scientists

Mars may once had habitat suitable for subterranean life, say scientists

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  • 20 September 2018: NASA’s TESS spacecraft reports its first exoplanet
  • 31 July 2018: Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018
  • 19 July 2018: US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
  • 7 May 2018: NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars
  • 21 April 2018: NASA launches exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS

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Monday, September 24, 2018

In a new study available in the current volume of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a team led by scientists from Brown University in the United States says that the planet Mars once had the right water and temperatures to host simple life forms—just not on its surface. Mars’ rocky, subterranean layer once had enough water and reductants to support some of the same kinds of microbial communities seen on Earth, and this habitat lasted for hundreds of millions of years.

“We showed, based on basic physics and chemistry calculations, that the ancient Martian subsurface likely had enough dissolved hydrogen to power a global subsurface biosphere,” reports lead author Jesse Tarnas, currently a graduate student at Brown. The paper does not prove that life on Mars did exist but rather that conditions suitable for life are very likely to have lasted for eons. This habitable zone, located beneath Mars’ then-frozen surface, would have reached several kilometers into Mars’ surface, protected from freezing by the ice above.

The the study shows that, during Mars’ Noachian period (3.7–4.1 billion years ago), radiolysis, the process by which radiation splits water molecules apart, produced enough hydrogen gas (H2) for microbial organisms to live on so long as they remained within the area just beneath the cryosphere, the SHZ. The concentration of hydrogen in the groundwater could have ranged from about 35 to about 55 millimoles depending on whether ancient Mars was warm or cold, respectively, and higher if the subsurface medium also contained enough salt. The researchers determined this by establishing three factors. First, they examined data from the gamma ray spectrometer aboard NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, from which they inferred how much uranium would have been present in Mars’ crust during the Noachian, and therefore how much radiation would have been available to split water and so produce hydrogen. Then built on existing models of water flow on Mars to determine how much groundwater would have been present. Third, they used climate and geothermal modeling to determine how much of that water would have been in liquid form and at a suitable temperature for living things.

In subterranean environments on Earth called subsurface lithotrophic microbial ecosystems, or SLiMEs, ecosystems sustain themselves not on plants that harness sunlight through photosynthesis but on microbes that harvest electrons from nearby molecules. Molecular hydrogen is an especially good electron donor.

One of the study authors, Brown Professor John Mustard, is on the team designing the next Mars Rover mission, scheduled for 2020. He and his co-authors recommend that the Rover examine the sites of meteorite crashes, which may have excavated rocks from this possibly habitable depth that may hold traces of ancient life.



Related news[]

  • “NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars” — Wikinews, May 7, 2018
  • “Curiosity Rover analysis suggests chemically complex lake once graced Mars’s Gale crater” — Wikinews, June 4, 2017
  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015

Sources[]

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Mars hosted a life-sustaining habitat for millions of years, say scientists

Mars hosted a life-sustaining habitat for millions of years, say scientists

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Space
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  • 20 September 2018: NASA’s TESS spacecraft reports its first exoplanet
  • 31 July 2018: Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018
  • 19 July 2018: US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites
  • 7 May 2018: NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars
  • 21 April 2018: NASA launches exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS

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Monday, September 24, 2018

In a new study available in the current volume of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a team led by scientists from Brown University in the United States says the planet Mars once had the right water and temperatures to host simple life forms—just not on its surface. Mars’ rocky, subterranean layer once had enough water and reductants to support some of the same kinds of microbial communities seen on Earth, and this habitat lasted for hundreds of millions of years.

“We showed, based on basic physics and chemistry calculations, that the ancient Martian subsurface likely had enough dissolved hydrogen to power a global subsurface biosphere,” reports lead author Jesse Tarnas, currently a graduate student at Brown. The paper does not prove life on Mars did exist but rather that conditions suitable for life are very likely to have lasted for eons. This habitable zone, located beneath Mars’ then-frozen surface, would have reached several kilometers into Mars’ surface, protected from freezing by the ice above.

The the study shows that, during Mars’ Noachian period (3.7–4.1 billion years ago), radiolysis, the process by which radiation splits water molecules apart, produced enough hydrogen gas (H2) for microbial organisms to live on so long as they remained within the area just beneath the cryosphere, the SHZ. The concentration of hydrogen in the groundwater could have ranged from about 35 to about 55 millimoles depending on whether ancient Mars was warm or cold, respectively, and higher if the subsurface medium also contained enough salt. The researchers determined this by establishing three factors. First, they examined data from the gamma ray spectrometer aboard NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, from which they inferred how much uranium would have been present in Mars’ crust during the Noachian, and therefore how much radiation would have been available to split water and so produce hydrogen. They then built on existing models of water flow on Mars to determine how much groundwater would have been present. Third, they used climate and geothermal modeling to determine how much of that water would have been in liquid form and at a suitable temperature for living things.

In subterranean environments on Earth called subsurface lithotrophic microbial ecosystems, or SLiMEs, ecosystems sustain themselves not on plants that harness sunlight through photosynthesis but on microbes that harvest electrons from nearby molecules. Molecular hydrogen is an especially good electron donor.

One of the study authors, Brown Professor John Mustard, is on the team designing the next Mars Rover mission, scheduled for 2020. He and his co-authors recommend the Rover examine the sites of meteorite crashes, which may have excavated rocks from this possibly habitable depth that may hold traces of ancient life.



Related news[]

  • “NASA’s InSight lander and MarCO craft launch in new mission to Mars” — Wikinews, May 7, 2018
  • “Curiosity Rover analysis suggests chemically complex lake once graced Mars’s Gale crater” — Wikinews, June 4, 2017
  • NASA announces water on Mars” — Wikinews, October 1, 2015

Sources[]

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

October 1, 2015

NASA announces water on Mars

NASA announces water on Mars – Wikinews, the free news source

NASA announces water on Mars

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

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Mars from the Viking Orbiter, 1980.
Image: NASA/USGS.

Warm season flows on slope in Newton Crater
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

On Monday, NASA announced that signs of liquid water have been found on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft found evidence of the liquid on the Martian surface, in long dark spots on the Red Planet thought to be formed because of water flow.

In a news conference, NASA’s planetary science director, Jim Green said, “We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes […] but something has happened to Mars, it lost its water.”

Water is thought to flow down slopes in the warm summer months and dry up as the temperature drops seasonally. Scientists have different theories about the water’s origin, as perhaps from the Martian atmosphere or from ice below the surface.

In 2011, Lujendra Ojha proposed the theory of water on the Martian surface, after studying salt samples from Martian soil. The temperature of Mars is close to the freezing point of water, but the presence of salt lowers the freezing point. Alfred McEwen, professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona, described the water as “briny”. Moreover, the recurring slope lineae (RSL) on the surface of Mars are found to slide down the slope in the hotter season indicating the presence of water.

NASA’s associate administrator John Grunsfeld said those observations gave a better picture about the planet’s resources that could be helpful in the future. Grunsfeld tweeted Water on Mars, not just frozen. Is anything drinking it? Someday we wil find out on our #JourneyToMars.

To mark this discovery, Google created a doodle in which Mars is sipping water.



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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Water on Mars
  • Commons-logo.svg Water on Mars

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December 8, 2014

Orion Spacecraft accomplishes first spaceflight test

Orion Spacecraft accomplishes first spaceflight test

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Monday, December 8, 2014

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The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA’s Orion spacecraft mounted atop.
Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

NASA has finally accomplished its first spaceflight with the new Orion spacecraft, uncrewed, on Friday morning. The spacecraft has now traveled farther from the Earth than any other spacecraft designed to carry a crew has traveled in over four decades.

The Orion crew module was launched off from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida mounted on top of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. Four and a half hours later, the space module landed in the Pacific Ocean.

During the mission, the spacecraft reached an altitude of 3,600 miles (5800 kilometers) and experienced periods of intense radiation when traveling twice through the Van Allen belt. Upon re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere, Orion achieved speeds of 20,000 miles per hour (32,000 kilometers per hour) and temperatures reached 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2200 degrees Celsius).

NASA has reported the entire spacecraft remained in one piece, with all the onboard computers still working despite the high radiation in the Van Allen belt. All the parachutes deployed without incident.

NASA said this is the farthest spacecraft have flown since the Apollo 17 mission 42 years ago, opening up new human explorations of space and getting closer to the goal of putting people on Mars.

Had astronauts been on board Orion, they would have experienced 8.2 times the force of gravity on Earth, NASA said.

Astronaut Rex Walheim, of the last Space Shuttle mission, talked about future crewed Mars missions and becoming “a multi-planetary species”.

The Orion program manager hopes NASA will look at information from this spaceflight and apply it to the next Orion spacecraft, to be launched by the Space Launch System rocket.


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January 18, 2012

Meteorites in Morocco found to be from Mars

Meteorites in Morocco found to be from Mars

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

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Meteors that landed in Morocco last year have been confirmed to be from Mars (pictured).
Image: NASA.

Meteorites that fell to Earth during a meteor shower in July of 2011 have been confirmed to be from Mars. The rocks, discovered in Morocco, were likely ejected off the surface of the planet during an ancient asteroid impact.

This is believed to be the fifth time in history that people have observed what turned out to be chemically confirmed martian material falling to Earth. Out of the approximately 24,000 known meteorites to have fallen to Earth, only about 34 have been verified to be martian in origin. Fifteen of these rocks are attributed to the meteorite shower last July. Some of the rocks, which are very rare on Earth, are being sold from US$11,000 to $22,500 per ounce, which is about ten times more than the cost of gold.

Meteorites confirmed to be from Mars fell to Earth in 1815, 1865, 1911 and 1962. The sooner the rocks are recovered after landing on Earth, the less they are contaminated by its natural processes. This allows scientists to examine specimens and gain insight about the geology of Mars. “Because it’s so fresh, if you find organics in this sample, you can be pretty sure those organics are Martian,” Carl Agee, director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, told Space.com.

Scientists postulate that a large object’s impact into Mars millions of years ago was the cause of the material’s ejection from the surface of the planet.



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January 16, 2012

Russian spacecraft Phobos-Grunt falls in Pacific Ocean

Russian spacecraft Phobos-Grunt falls in Pacific Ocean

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Monday, January 16, 2012

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A model of Phobos-Grunt presented during CeBIT 2011.
Image: MKonair.

The Russian spacecraft Phobos-Grunt fell into the Pacific Ocean some 1,250 kilometers west of Wellington, Chile yesterday after circling in Earth orbit for two months. The spacecraft was designed to retrieve soil samples from the largest moon of Mars, Phobos, but its engines failed and it had remained in Earth orbit ever since.

According to the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), the spacecraft was in a near-Earth orbit with perigee 113.8 km and apogee 133.2 km at 8.15 p.m. UTC yesterday. It fell into the Pacific ocean around 9.45 p.m.

Predictions had varied on whether any segments would reach the Earth’s surface, and it is still unknown whether any did so. People from New Zealand and London reported sighting the spacecraft glowing bright orange as it passed eastwards.

Russian authorities plan to determine the reasons behind the accident. The failure of the mission is being considered as a major setback in Russia’s interplanetary programme. Vadim Lukashevich, a space expert, commented, “Five and half billion rubles and all the hopes of Russian space science for a revival… today burn up without any glory in the earth’s atmosphere.”



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October 1, 2010

NASA\’s new space capsule to be ready for test flights by 2013

NASA’s new space capsule to be ready for test flights by 2013

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Friday, October 1, 2010

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Artist’s impression of NASA’s new Orion capsule.
Image: NASA.

NASA’s Space Shuttle replacement, the Orion spacecraft, is anticipated to be ready for test flights by 2013.

Orion, part of the original Constellation program proposal, would be used in a NASA initiative to return astronauts to the moon. However, United States president Barack Obama cancelled the program in his 2011 budget. He instead advised NASA to focus on a manned mission to an asteroid, and then to Mars.

Obama supports the development of the capsule only as an emergency escape ‘lifeboat’ for the International Space Station.

The end of the Space Shuttle program will see many contractors out of work. The United States Congress is debating a bill to add one more shuttle mission in the gap between the currently scheduled last shuttle mission and the first manned flight of the capsule, in order to alleviate concerns over job loss and the gap between the end of shuttle missions and the entry into service of a replacement American vehicle.

Despite uncertainty about the future and usage of Orion, Lockheed Martin, the craft’s manufacturer, continues to work on it and plans to have a fully-operational model ready by the end of 2012. The company is also drawing up flight plans for possible missions.

In the original Constellation program proposal, the capsule would have been used to transport a six-member crew to and from the International Space Station, and a four-member crew on trips to the moon. Although Obama’s newly proposed plan involves missions to asteroids and eventually Mars, Lockheed Martin officials still believe that Orion would be a prime candidate for the job.

“It’s possible to make Orion compatible with other launch vehicles,” said Josh Hopkins, a Lockheed Martin official. “It doesn’t actually look all that hard.”



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June 7, 2010

Men isolated to mimic Mars flight

Men isolated to mimic Mars flight – Wikinews, the free news source

Men isolated to mimic Mars flight

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Monday, June 7, 2010

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Following a similar experiment in 2009, six men entered an enclosed room in Moscow last Thursday to simulate a flight to Mars. The Mars-500 team consist of a Chinese man, a Frenchman, an Italian, and three Russians. Only the Chinese man, Wang Yue, is a trained astronaut. The six waved goodbye, crying “see you in 520 days’ time!”.

According to Wang, not being able to see their families and friends was one of the greatest challenges, although e-mail is allowed during the experiment. Both Wang and the Frenchman, Romain Charles, expressed pride to be part of this experiment. Wang said, “it will be trying for all of us. We cannot see our family, we cannot see our friends, but I think it is all a glorious time in our lives.”

The joint-effort project is being organised by the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) and the European Space Agency; the goal is to study physical and psychological effects on would-be astronauts. All six men speak reasonable English; however, as Russian is another primary language for the simulated trip, Russian crew member Sukhrob Kamolov said body language will be used should they fail to understand one another.

Food for the volunteers will be rationed as it would in a real Mars mission. All supplies were supplied by China and loaded into the ‘simulated spacecraft’ prior to the beginning of the experiment. For backup, China is sending three mission support staff to Russia.

No women are included in the crew, excluding issues relating to a mixed-sex crew from the study. During a similar experiment in 1999, a woman complained that the captain attempted to kiss her.

Following 250 days of “travelling” to Mars, the group will split. Three will stay in the “spacecraft”, the other three going to the surface of “Mars”. Only two will actually leave the “spacecraft” to study the surface of “Mars”. After a month, the group will go through the return journey simulation, a 240 day trip. The men will follow a strict timetable, with 8 hours each of sleep, work, and leisure each day.



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