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Astronauts Start 520-Day Mars Test

| 3 Jun 2010 12:01
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An experiment to test the effects of isolation on long space voyages has gotten underway today in Moscow.

How long could you bear being stuck in a confined space with someone? An hour? A day maybe? How about nearly a year and a half? That's exactly what six volunteers have let themselves in for as they take part in an experiment to test the effects of prolonged isolation on a spaceship crew.

The experiment, dubbed the Mars-500 Project, will take 520 days, which simulates the 250 day trip to Mars, a 30 day exploration of the surface, and a 240 day trip back. The experiment is being conducted by the Moscow-based Institute for Medical and Biological Problems, with co-operation from the European and Chinese space authorities.

"When everybody interacts with the same people in the same space, habits and behavior become apparent very quickly," said psychotherapist Mikhail Baryshev. "These habits may irritate and cause indignation - and even fits of aggression."

The experiment has come under criticism however, for its male-only crew: "The absence of women in Mars-500 Project yet again proves the presence of old-fashioned earthly gender stereotypes," said Mikhail Salkin of the Moscow Human Rights Protection Centre, who accused the experiment of being unfairly biased towards men.

Source: Daily Mail

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