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Where do astronauts train for a mission to Mars?

Oct 18, 2021

Mars mission in Israeli desert will help prepare for life on Red Planet

If one day humans are going to live on Mars, we need to be prepared for the harsh conditions. So this month, six 'analogue astronauts' will be simulating life on the Red Planet by conducting a mission in a desert. Reinhard Tlustos, who is in charge of 'mission control' in Austria, said the conditions the desert are really similar Mars, so it's the ideal location to practise in.

"It's very dry, there's nothing growing there, it's isolated, and Mars is basically a big desert as well," he said.

The aim is to get a better idea of what living and working on the planet will be like, and to discover and solve any problems that could arise on Mars, in a safe way, on Earth.

The mission named AMADEE-20 will last three weeks and is being hosted by D-MARS, and led by the Austrian Space Forum in collaboration with the Israel Space Agency.

It's taking place in the Negev desert, which is in the south of Israel. The team, made up of five men and one woman, will be doing lots of things to simulate life on Mars.

They'll be wearing hi-tech space suit prototypes when not inside the habitat, and any communication with mission control will be delayed by ten minutes, as communication between planets takes a bit of time.

The astronauts will be carrying out tests, such as developing equipment that can detect life.

They'll also be testing different techniques to help the astronauts cope with being isolated for a long time, including practising mindfulness. This is because while missions into space are exciting for the people doing them, people can get homesick if it lasts a long time, so it's important to come up with ideas to support the crew's wellbeing.

They'll also be doing lots of tests with robots explained Reinhard Tlustos who said: "On a real Mars mission, you will also have robots. Robots that help you carry things from one place to another, robots that can do scientific experiments, and robots that can go to places that are too dangerous for humans."

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