About “Mars-500” project
The beginning of the third millennium is marked by increasing interest of the world community to Mars, and it happens not accidentally – as compared to the majority of the rest planets of the solar system (sizzling heat on Venus, deadly cold on Titan) conditions on Mars are more suitable for its exploration. Moreover, on Earth there are sand and Arctic deserts, where environmental conditions are very similar to Martian conditions. And it means that people are able not only to land on the neighboring planet, but also to colonize it in the foreseeable future.
Another important factor increasing significantly probability of Mars exploration and colonization is confirmed (in particular by exploration probe Phoenix) existence of water, both frozen and liquid. In addition to this they managed to discover lately zones on Mars with increased content of methane, that is usually produced by living organisms. However the most important question about existence of life on the planet is still open - robots cannot give the final answer so far, only humans are able to do it, for this a manned expedition to Mars is necessary.
But first, before it happens, it is necessary to give answers on a series of new questions, that is put forward by such interplanetary expedition to manned cosmonautics – it differs greatly from an orbital flight of comparable duration (1.5 – 2 years)..
The Russian project “Mars-500” will be able to answer a part of these questions. This experiment is a part of the federal space program and it presupposes conduction of the experiment on simulation of a manned flight to the Red planet, in which a series of conditions of such expedition will be simulated. This experiment is being conducted by the State scientific center of the Russian Federation – Institute for Bio-Medical Problems of RAS under aegis of Roscosmos and Russian Academy of Sciences.
The aim of the project is investigation of the system “man – environment” and obtaining of experimental data about the state of health and working capacity of the crew staying for a long time in conditions of isolation in hermetically confined environment of limited space during simulation of the main peculiarities of the Martian flight (over-duration, autonomy, changed conditions of communication with Earth – communication delay, limited consumable resources).
Among the tasks of the project is the task to determine whether such a flight is possible from the point of view of psychology and physiology (at the admissible level of simulation) and to work out definite requirements for the real expeditionary spaceship that will fly to Mars.
“Mars-500” project includes a series of experiments simulating these or those aspects of the given flight. The main part is a series of the experiments on long-term isolation in conditions of the specially built ground-based experimental facility. It includes:
14-day isolation (completed in November 2007)
105-day isolation (completed in July 2009)
520-day isolation (April 2010 – October 2011)
However all the tasks connected with interplanetary flights cannot be solved in the framework of only this series of the experiments. That is why at the same time a series of so-called satellite experiments is conducted. In these experiments other tasks are solved – radiation impact, countermeasures against weightlessness effect influence of fire-safe atmosphere of the spaceship, etc.