«Mars-500» project
Simulation of a manned flight to Mars

The duration of 520-day experiment on “Mars-500” project was 1 year (June 3, 2010 – June 3, 2011).

Intermediate results.

The main purpose of the experiment is investigation of interaction in the contour “human - environment” and obtaining of experimental data about the state of health and working capacity of humans, staying in conditions of isolation in confined pressurized environment during simulation of the main differences and limitations typical for the Martian flight.

The aims of the experiment are as follows:

  • Investigation of the influence of the simulated conditions of a manned Martian expedition on the health and working capacity of the crew;
  • Verification of organization of the crew’s activity and its interaction with the ground control center during simulation of peculiarities typical for the Martian flight;
  • Verification of the principles, methods and means of control and monitoring of the habitat;
  • Verification of the principles, methods and means of control, diagnostics and prognosis of the state of health and working capacity, providing of medical help, means of collection, processing and analysis of the medical and physiological information, means of prophylaxis;
  • Approbation of the elements of the information-reference system;
  • Verification of the means and methods of telemedicine for distant control over the state of human health;
  • Approbation of the methods and autonomous means of psychological support;
  • Assessment of the modern technologies of the systems and means of life support and protection of humans.

Peculiarities of the Martian expedition (long duration; high degree of autonomy, that presupposes self-control of the whole vital activity of the crew, including control over the state of health, psychological state and working capacity; long staying of the crew in the conditions of social isolation, confined environment, far from the Earth conditions of life; high degree of responsibility for the success of the mission in combination with significant risk) are simulated in conditions of ground-based medical-technical experimental facility of SSC RF – IBMP RAS, taking into account communication delays and limitation of information.
Investigations, included into the clinical-physiological and physiological, psychological and psycho-physiological directions, are devoted to the investigation of the influence of the simulated conditions of a manned Martian expedition on the health and working capacity of the crew.
Verification of organization of the activity of the crew and its interaction with the ground-based control center is performed with the help of a set of investigations, included into psychological and psycho-physiological, operational-technological directions, proposed and realized in the experiment communication regulations.
A series of investigations, included into sanitary-hygienic and operational-technological directions are meant for verification of the principles, methods and means of control and monitoring of the habitat.
Investigations, included into clinical-physiological and physiological, psychological and psycho-physiological, biochemical, immunological and biological directions are meant for verification of the principles, methods and means of control, diagnostics and prognosis of the state of health and working capacity, providing of medical help, means of collection, processing and analysis of medical and physiological information, means of prophylaxis.
Approbation of the elements of reference-information system is conducted in the frameworks of the use of the systems of control, management and documents flow.
Two experiments in the operational-technological direction are devoted to the verification of the means and methods of telemedicine for distant control over the state of health of humans.
Approbation of the methods and autonomous means of psychological support is provided by investigations in psychological and psycho-physiological directions and analysis of the use of the means agreed upon with the crew.
Assessment of the modern technologies of the systems and means of life support and protection of humans is conducted with the use of the developed system of control and management and investigations in the operational-technological  direction.

Organization of the work and rest regime of the crew is conducted taking into account shift duties of one crew member at the main console:
Crew members live on the following regime:

  • sleep – 8.5 hours;
  • period after sleep – 1.5 hour (including 1 hour for breakfast);
  • daily operative meeting – 0.5 hour;
  • preparation for work, examination of the facility, familiarization with the time line of the day – 1.5 hour;
  • work with the systems – 2 hours;
  • implementation of the scientific experiments – 4 hours;
  • lunch -  1 hour;
  • physical trainings – 1 hour;
  • personal time and supper – 4 hours.

The main types of the crew’s activities are as follows:

1. Implementation of the scientific program of the experiment, planning and organization of the investigations is performed by the crew itself on the basis of an approximate time line, worked out by the experiment control center.
2. Maintenance of the physical and psychical health, working capacity of the crew members, that are conducted by means of regular medical control and physical trainings with the use of the existing training devices. On the basis of the data of the medical control the crew physician takes decision about conduction of prophylaxis and treatment activities, in case of necessity in extreme situations he addresses the experiment control center for help.
3. Control over parameters of the regulated habitat of pressurized facility, that is conducted according to the regulations during the working day. The crew also performs regular toxicological and microbiological control over the state of the pressurized facility.
4. Control and registration of the consumed resources – food, water, expendables, spare parts, LSS resources.
5. Regular prophylaxis and repair works on maintenance of the normal functioning of the systems of the pressurized facility, conduction in the pressurized facility of sanitary-hygienic activities, maintenance in the pressurized facility of the normal everyday conditions.
6. Increase of the level of qualification of the crew members, learning of new professions, improvement of language skills.

Physical parameters of the habitat

During the experiment the main parameters of the habitat are maintained and constantly controlled, they include temperature of the gas environment, its composition and dustiness, noise and lightening in different zones, relative humidity, etc.
The values of the parameters of the habitat, content of microorganisms in the atmosphere and on the surfaces, concentration of harmful contaminants in the air of the modules must not exceed the values given in GOST R 50804-95 “Habitat of the cosmonaut in a manned space apparatus”.
 Control over the dynamics of the indices of the habitat in the experimental modules is performed by the investigators and the ground-based service on the approved methodologies and schedules. Registration of the parameters of the atmosphere in the table form is conducted every two hours.

The scientific program

Performance of the advanced series of the investigations and experiments on verification of all the elements, directions and tasks of the Martian expedition, including investigations of physiological systems and organism in general, verification of scientific, methodological, instrumental and apparatus-information means of the system of health support is the most important stage of preparation of the real Martian mission.
At the present time the main priority task of the advanced simulated investigations, including the current 520-day experiment, is further development and verification of human-oriented systems and biomedical means, aimed at preservation of health, achievement of long-time high level of physical and psychical working capacity, optimal conditions of vital activity, adequate social space, stable psycho-physiological comfort during all the stages of the Martian expedition, efficient rehabilitation with preservation of the optimal parameters of somatic and psychic health.
 The scientific program of the conducted experiment reflects the following requirements:

  • constant registration and control over the experimental conditions:
  • support of adequacy of the used methods, equipment and software;
  • support of the efficiency of the constant dynamic control of the investigated parameters;
  • creation, operative and retrospective use of the onboard basis of the data of medical, medical-technical information and information-analytical systems;
  • optimal, full-scope inter-computer exchange of the data with the experiment control center.

During the preparation and realization of the program of 520-day experiment the following sequence of the investigation is realized:

  • analysis and assessment of the medical risks, choice of the priority investigations;
  • prognosis, formulation of the checked hypothesis or alternative hypothesis;
  • determination of the methodological approaches and means of checking;
  • choice and installation of the hardware and software;
  • realization of program-mathematical and information support;
  • realization of the requirements to collection, accumulation, presentation, analysis, interpretation of the data. Filling of the shells of data basis and expert systems.

Duration of the experiment by the present time is 1 year (June 3, 2010 – June 3, 2011).
The scientific program of 520-day experiment was worked out and is being realized in the frameworks of 5 parts (more than 100 investigations).


Psychologists have singled out 3 main directions of the investigations during the flight of the manned expedition to Mars:

  • support of psycho-emotional state, general and professional psychological working capacity during 520 days of the expedition;
  • support of efficient inter-group interaction in the multicultural crew,
  • interaction of the crew with the Control center in over-duration autonomous flight during increasing communication delay.

Basing on this, the main tasks of the psychological program of the experiment Mars-500 were formulated:

  • verification of the new criteria of individual and group psychological selection as applied to the manned Martian expedition;
  • assessment of psycho-emotional state, psychic working capacity and alarm level of the crew members;
  • investigation of peculiarities of communication of the crew with the external world taking into account limitations (communication delay), typical for the flight to Mars;
  • investigation of the processes of the group and individual adaptation for conditions of 520-day isolation;
  • investigation of the personal values and interaction in the group, influence of the multicultural background on the communication of the crew;
  • investigation of the problems of support of the skills of operator’s professional activity in conditions of 520-day isolation, also with the help of technologies of virtual simulation of operations on landing on Mars;
  • verification of the new means of psychological support, developed on the basis of technologies of virtual reality;
  • investigation of the influence of different means of psychological prophylaxis (including existence on board of higher plants) for optimization of psycho-physiological  status of the crew members;
  • investigation of the role of unconscious psycho-physiological reactions in adaptation for conditions of long-term isolation.

According to the tasks, 26 scientific projects on psychology were included into the program of “Mars-500” experiment.
From them – 16 are Russian, 7 – ESA, 1 – CCTC, 1 – USA (NSBRI), 1 – Spain. During realization of the program both methods that have gained good reputation in the flights to orbital space stations, and innovation methods are used, for example technology of virtual modeling and computer analysis of communication.
In psychological and psycho-physiological investigations the state of higher psychic functions is regularly studied, mechanism of psycho-emotional stress, efficiency of the methods of control of psychic working capacity, peculiarities of inter-group and interpersonal interaction and dynamics of communication of the crew with the external world, state and dynamics of professional skills of control over accurate processes, stands and simulators.
The state of operator’s functions is studied, stability of the types of reaction of stress-factors of the activity (experiments “Pilot’, “Record”, “Virtual”, “PRET”, “SOPR-monitoring”, etc.).
Efficiency is studied of the influence of conduction of regular autogenic trainings on classical methodologies on the psycho-physiological state of the operators during conduction of the sessions of test control at all the stages of the experiment.
At the present time psychological state of the crew complies with the prognosis of the specialists. At this signs of “the problem of the way back” are found, aggravated by psychic asthenisation at the background of sensors deprivation and monotony.

Clinical and laboratory-diagnostic investigations

Dynamics of the main organs and tissues and metabolic processes are studied in the clinical and laboratory-diagnostic investigations. The blood system is studied (component composition, morphology, balance of coagulation and anti-coagulation systems).
In the biochemical analyses of liquid media of the organism (saliva, blood, urine) content is studied of different biochemically active substances, the state of metabolic processes, ferment systems and hormones).
The data has been obtained and is being analyzed about the most important elements of water-electrolyte, protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism and state of neuro-endocrine mechanisms of regulation.
Metabolic status is studied of nefron, dynamics of the immune system, motor and secretory function of the gastro-intestinal tract and food status of the organism, microbiological and genetic status of the organism.


In the physiological investigations investigation is conducted of the dynamics of the state of physiological systems, peculiarities and state of mechanisms and their regulation.
The cardio-vascular system is studied. In the experiments “Ecosan”, “Cardioson”, “Cardiovisor”, and “Regularion AD” comprehensive investigation is conducted of the dynamics of the state of heart and the central blood circulation at different stages of isolation, efficiency of prophylaxis measures is assessed. The obtained data are supplemented with the data of regularly conducted tele-ecography and tele-auscultation.
In the experiment on investigation of flow-dependent dilatation of shoulder artery and dynamics of ankle-shoulder index of arterial pressure important data have been obtained about the state of endothelium of the main arterial vessels and endothelial functions and state of regional stream of low extremities.       
With the help of the computer methodologies the state of capillary stream is studied of different regions, the use of laser analyzer allows to assess dynamics and peculiarities of capillary blood flow.
The dynamics of the state of respiratory system and gas-energy-exchange is studied in the experiments “The main exchange”, “Respiration-rest”, “Respiration-cycloergometry” and “Spiro”.
Also the functional characteristics of the activity of the heart and vessels and the state of the external respiration are investigated during conduction of Holter-monitoring, stress-ECG, studying of AP regulation, during studying of respiration noises of forced exhale.
In electro-physiological experiments the state of electro-epidermal activity is studied (electro-physiological status of the basal membrane), analysis of electroencephalogram is conducted, correlation of its rhythms at rest, after performance of physical loading and in the periods of night sleep. An important and also new direction of investigations is studying of the influence of audio-visual stimulation on dynamics of the structure of EEG rhythms and average constant potential in the experiment “Omega-neuroanalyzer”. The state of a series of analyzer systems is studied, in particular, hearing analyzer with the audiometry method and visual analyzer during the investigation of threshold-sensitive characteristics of perception of visual information during regulation of the parameters of light environment in the experiment “Visual threshold”.
The state of the thermoregulation system is assessed in the experiment “Thermolab”.
The dynamics is studied of physical working capacity during different regimes of physical prophylactic trainings with the use of several kinds of training devices and conduction of regular testing of their efficiency.
Besides the above mentioned investigations, a series of other important physiological investigations and experiments is conducted.

Sanitary-hygienic and microbiological investigations

In sanitary-hygienic and microbiological investigations dynamics is studied of changes of conditions of the habitat, cyclicism of the changes of its toxicological-hygienic characteristics, prognosis significance of shifts and their reasons.

Operational-technological investigations

In the operational-technological investigations studying is conducted of growth and vital activity of plants in conditions of confined environment with the given conditions of the habitat by means of installation and servicing of greenhouses with growing of a series of plants both as elements of psychological support (decorative) and with the aim of supplement of the food ration with fresh greens (vitamin greenhouse - salad machine "Phytocycle").
Verification is conducted of the methods and means of emergency medical help providing, medical control, telemedical means of medical control and diagnostics.
A series of new means of sanitary-hygienic control of the habitat is studied.

Organization of the work of ground-based services

Daily activity of the crew is performed on the basis of the timeline developed by the person responsible for the planning of the investigations.  Two days before the beginning of the planned day the timeline is handed over to the crew. In it methodologies are marked that require strict following the time and conditions (blood taking on an empty stomach), that means the necessity of its strict conduction at the mentioned time. Implementation of the other methodologies is distributed by the crew itself depending on the real situation in the facility at the condition of obligatory implementation of the planned daily scope of investigations.
The analytical group is working, its responsibilities include: analysis of the reports of the commander and the crew, finding of the crew's remarks and their analysis, handing the information over to the supervisors, technical personnel, medical specialists; forming of responses for the investigators.

Implementation of the scientific program

Average frequency of the investigations is once per 60 days. By the given period all the planned investigations have been performed by the crew. There are not any failures or shifts of the investigations on other dates.
The investigators, including foreign ones do not have any remarks on the quality of the transmitted initial scientific  information. They assess positively activity of the crew on the implementation of the scientific investigations.

Medical control and support of the experiment

Organization of the medical support of the experiment with 520-day isolation foresees observation of the following requirements: medical safety and complete autonomy of the conduction of the experiments, the level of medical help is in the volume of qualified medical help, provided by the crew-physician and expanded due to consultative help of medical services accompanying the experiment, confidentiality of the obtained medical information.
Medical support of the experiments includes providing of medical monitoring of the state of health of the crew participants by means of daily, expanded monthly and expert half-year control; performance of diagnostic procedures in case of diseases and injuries, also in case of emergency states; conduction of adequate medical-prophylactic activities; creation of medical documentation on the methods and means of providing of treatment-diagnostic help.
For the conduction of medical control and treatment-diagnostic procedures, and also for installation of the medical equipment and pharmacological means a special medical module was allocated and equipped with a set of the necessary means of control and providing of medical help (including the use of telemedical means). In the aims of observation of confidentiality of the medical data a system of information means was created, allowing to transfer the obtained medical information on closed channels of communication.

Medical control in the process of the experiment includes:
daily medical control:

  • subjective assessment of the state of health on a special questionnaire,
  • morning and evening control of the main indices of vital activity (pressure, heart rate, body temperature, weight).

in-depth (monthly) medical control:

  • in-depth assessment of the activity of the cardio-vascular system (electro-cardiographic investigations at rest and at loading, in case of necessity conduction of Holter's monitoring and monitoring of the arterial pressure),
  • laboratory methods of investigation of blood and urine,
  • private medical and psychological conferences.

For the period from the beginning of 520-day isolation no significant changes were noted of the state of health of the participants of the experiment. A series of medical situations, found in the participants of the experiment, required prescription of treatment-prophylactic activities that were enough and adequate.
On the expert conclusion of the Medical-experts commission of the institute from 24.11.2010 and 23.05.2011 all the participants of the crew, on the state of health, were admitted for further participation in the experiment.


The nutrition regime in the experiment is 5-times: breakfast, the second breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner - i. e. three main food intakes and two light snacks.
On the content of the necessary for the human organism nutrients the food ration complies with the accepted physiological norms for the contingents whose professional activity on energy expenditure refers to the category of average gravity (up to 3000 kcal). The nutrients composition of the ration complies with the recommendations of World health organization (WHO).
There are not any remarks regarding the quality of the food products.
In the process of the experiment on the basis of the results of assessment of the volunteers' health, taking into account their remarks, recommendations were given on correction of the product composition of the food ration, foreseeing decrease of calories by means of exception from consumption of separate products.

Psychological support

As means of psychological support of the crew in the experiment the same methods and means are used, that with ISS crews (books, films, music, news surveys, etc.).
Means of psychological support were formed taking into account the opinion of each crew member and loaded before the beginning of the experiment. News surveys are transmitted three times a week on the computer net.

Psychological and emotional environment

It is worth saying that the verified in the experiment MARS-105 system of psychological selection has justified itself completely. The crew of 520-day isolation went through this stage as the single unity. There were not any conflict situations, moreover no situations requiring interference of the ground-based services. Difficulties during performance of some complicated investigation methodologies were overcome by the crew together. It is worth saying that cultural differences and language difficulties do not influence the quality of the implemented activity. In communication constructive friendly style prevails. The crew spends enough time together, for this they asked for films with titles in different languages, i. e. an opportunity appear to discuss the seen films together. The crew together and beforehand prepares surprises for birthdays, big state holidays and informal holidays (on October 31 they celebrated Halloween). It is possible to notice that the crew members somehow increased the time spent on individual activities that does not hamper communication. There is not any division of the crew on language or any other interests.
The commander has the authority and is both formal and informal leader.
Each crew member is regularly the operator on duty, working at the main console EU-150, that allows to learn some types of works, that are on board engineer's functions.

Maintenance of physical working capacity

Experience of flights on the orbital station "Mir" and International space station (ISS) allowed to formulate a series of tasks, solving of which is important for providing of high efficiency of prophylaxis activities on maintenance of the physical working capacity in interplanetary space flights.
The participants of the experiment are divided into 3 groups, two volunteers in each. The regimes of trainings alternate, by the present time three stages have been finished.
At the first stage efficiency of the trainings was assessed, performed with the use of training device MDS (Austria), expanders and vibro-training device (Germany).
At the second stage efficiency was assessed of locomotor trainings in an active and passive regimes of the treadmill and trainings on cycloergometer.
At the third stage finishing of trainings foreseen by the experiment is performed.
Each 30 days test program was performed of assessment of the state and level of training fitness of the crew members with the use of tests on treadmill, on the strength training device, stable-platform and conduction of the test on cycloergometer with gas-analyzer. Preliminary results of assessment of the level of working capacity of the crew point to the fact that the proposed system of physical trainings allows not only to preserve the level of general working capacity of the crew members in the conditions of the experiment, but also to increase the level of fitness.

Simulated off-nominal situations

On December 1-2, 2010 an off-nominal situation was simulated, simulating short-circuit failure and further fire of the central distribution switchgear, supplying electrical energy for the whole medical technical facility.
The activities of the members of the team on duty were defined by the "Instruction about the activities of the team on duty in emergency situation and in case of fire" the crew - by "Activities of the crew of volunteers during fire and emergency situation".
The total duration of the off-nominal situation was 22 hours 48 minutes.
After completion of the off-nominal situation the crew was informed that it had been simulated.
The created and acted out off-nominal situation showed good moral preparation of the crew and its ability to act actively in a stress situation.

In the period from April 18 to 25, 2011 simulation was conducted of the second off-nominal situation, simulating high degree of autonomy of the crew. Under high autonomy we understand a long period of time (in the given case - one week) during which the crew itself composed the daily schedule and took decisions on realization of the program of investigations.
Before the conduction of the given off-nominal situation the crew was informed that in connection with failures in communication during a week communication nets would not work, and communication with them stops completely. During the conduction of the given experiment the on-ground services stopped transmission to the crew of radiograms, video-messages, personal letters and information news blocks. The telemedical system was also switched off. However, in the aims of the safety of the crew, the emergency communication and cameras of video observation were not switched off.
The crew worked this situation without difficulties that allows to make a conclusion - the crew is in a good psycho-emotional form, that allows them to cope easily with difficult tasks.

Simulation of the landing to Mars and work of the crew on the surface.

Simulation of the landing on Mars and works of the crew on the surface were successfully performed in the period from 01/02/2011 till 01/03/2011.

The purpose of the stage of Mars landing is a simulation of the crew activity on provision of landing and work on the Mars surface with use of robotic tools as well as computer technologies and virtual reality technologies.

Main tasks:

  • Learning of the equipment of EU-50 module, transfer and distribution of the loads from the reserve storehouse;
  • Simulating of the dynamic operations on the docking and undocking the landing module with interplanetary space facility;
  • Crew members training with use of virtual and computerized models of crew activity on the Mars surface;
  • Redistribution of liquid medium of the organism when modeling the impact of microgravity before the landing of the crew on the Mars surface.
  • Training of the crew before (the exit to the Mars surface) using three-dimensional virtual model of the crew activities;
  • Support and implementation of 3 exits to the Mars surface of the landing part of the crew;
  • Remote exploration of the Mars surface with use of real robotic tools;
  • Provision of the medical control and program of scientific researches during the activities on the Mars surface.

There were successfully implemented 4 projects at this stage:

1.”Investigation of the effects of cranial redistribution of liquids on the state of working capacity and orthostatic tolerance of humans during the work in a space suit on the simulated Martian surface in the ground-based experiment with long-term isolation, simulating a manned flight to Mars”.
2. “Performing of 3 goings out to the Martian surface and its exploration with the help of robotic-technical means (“Gulliver” rover)”.
3. Investigations with the use of the technology of virtual reality (VIRTU).
4. “Approbation of PRET (Performance Readiness Evaluation and Training Tool)” in the framework of “Mars-500” project.

© Development and desing: Oleg Voloshin