Israeli researchers simulate life on Mars in Negev desert

James Marshall
February 20, 2018

What are the objectives of this D-Mars experiment?

A team of six Israeli scientists completed a four-day experiment in the Negev desert in which they simulated a Mars habitation mission by recreating living conditions on the Red Planet.

The Israeli mission is one of several analog "expeditions" to Mars being held around the world, and the first of several planned missions to be held at the D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station). They ate food from capsules, lived in confined quarters, and had to wear spacesuit whenever they left the pod. The team of researchers was trained to search for signs of life in the soil similar to how they would actually do in the Mars.

"One of the challenges we are trying to crack is building a spaceship and a motor that can fit in the long journey, the effect of cosmic rays on humans, leading and building a structure, living in a small isolated group, communicating with the Earth", said Avi Balesberger, director of the Israeli space agency. Guy Ron, a nuclear physics professor who took part in D-Mars, told Reuters the experiment also aimed to raise public interest in space travel.

As we're slowly developing the necessary technology to transport humans to Mars, more and more people around our home planet are starting to prepare for a life on the Red Planet.

"D-Mars is half about the research, and the other half is about the outreach".

During the D-MARS mission, the participants were asked to remain isolated in the shortlisted area and conduct experiments while wearing space suits to mimics the psychological and physiological effects that will be observed on Mars once human reaches it. The project is one of numerous Mars simulation projects now taking place worldwide. This was the fifth mock Mars mission of the NASA-funded Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. NASA sent six researchers on a similar experiment spanning over eight months in Hawaii previous year to experiment the habitat and working conditions and most of all, experimentation purposes.

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