The crew of astronauts isolated on a 520-day simulated space mission

The $15 Million Mars500 project at Moscow’s Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) was designed to recreate the experience of prolonged isolation that an astronaut would go through on their way to Mars. From most of the pictures I’ve seen, it looks like a prolonged season of Big Brother, but with less sex and more science (each astronaut regularly tested their blood and urine).

Since the 520-day period  ended last week, each of the six males astronauts have still had little contact with other people. “Psychologists fear a return to the noise and activity of ordinary life will come as a shock to the men.”

Their surroundings simulated a spaceship, with another pod designed to simulate the experience of landing on Mars.

A similar expirment was conducted in 2000 and, “Ended in drunken disaster when two participants got into a fistfight and a third tried to forcibly kiss a female crew member.”

Let’s hope Mars doesn’t turn out to be the way it’s depicted in every space and sci-fi movie that it’s made an appearance.

One thing the Russians can take comfort in (or feel incredibly stupid about), though, is that the Americans cancelled their Space Shuttle Program last summer, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be investing money in a new space program any time soon.

More at Reuters

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