Three weeks in the Martian landscape of the Negev desert

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Mitzpé Ramón (Israel), Oct 31 (EFE) .- Six astronauts, including a Spaniard, spent three weeks isolated in a Martian base recreated in a crater in the middle of the Negev desert, in southern Israel, where they carried out everything type of experiments as part of a program to optimize preparations for an eventual trip to Mars.

In a red, dry, rocky nothingness with mountains in the background, where the only sound is that of the wind and the sun beating violently, the human being today took another step on his long way to the red planet.

The conclusion of the AMADEE-20 mission, postponed by the pandemic and in which some 200 people from more than 25 countries participated, represents the most recent experiment of the Austrian Space Forum, one of the main institutions dedicated to anticipating the obstacles of a future interplanetary mission.

“This is a milestone, it is a first small step towards Mars”, explained to Efe Gernot Grömer, director of the Forum, who considered that this, the thirteenth mission of this type of his institution, was the “largest, most exhaustive and complex expedition that the human being has seen “.


Regarding the choice of the crater of Mitzpé Ramón, 40 kilometers long and 500 meters deep, Grömer explained that it is “one of the best places to simulate Mars on Earth”, and that although it presents similar geological characteristics, it has obvious differences: its air is breathable for humans and its temperature and gravity vary widely compared to those of the red planet.

Unlike previous missions, the base in which the astronauts were isolated was completely sealed, making it possible to work in depth on psychological issues and group dynamics, beyond scientific experiments on biology, medicine, geology and engineering.

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The team of six, made up of a Portuguese, a Spanish, a German, a Dutch, an Israeli and an Austrian, only had contact with a team in Innsbruck (Austria), a sort of land base with which they communicated via messages from text, with a delay of 10 minutes, replicating the expected delay between Mars and Earth.

“We have had a mission that combines isolation, and the psychological burden that this implies, with very advanced technologies in the EVAs (virtual learning environment) of spacewalks,” Spanish Iñigo Muñoz-Elorza, second in command of the simulation, after leaving the cockpit without a spacesuit for the first time in three weeks.

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