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Russian Simulated Mars Mission Close To 'Landing'

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the can't-wait-for-the-simulated-martian-attack dept.

Mars 170

Dthief writes with this quote from an Associated Press report: "After 233 days in a locked steel capsule, six researchers on a 520-day mock flight to Mars are all feeling strong and ready to 'land' on the Red Planet, the mission director said Friday. The all-male crew of three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman and an Italian-Colombian has been inside windowless capsules at a Moscow research center since June. Their mission aims to help real space crews in the future cope with the confinement and stress of interplanetary travel. The researchers communicate with the outside world via emails and video messages — occasionally delayed to give them the feel of being farther than a few yards away from mission control. The crew members eat canned food similar to that eaten on the International Space Station and shower only once a week. None of the men has considered abandoning the mission, although they are free to walk out at any time, mission director and former cosmonaut Boris Morukov told reporters on Friday."

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170 comments

Start of a bad, racist joke? (4, Funny)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965068)

Why does the line "three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman and an Italian-Colombian" sound like a bad and racist "walk in a bar" joke?

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (3, Funny)

euyis (1521257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965208)

Three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman and an Italian-Colombian walk into a Mars capsule and can't get out.

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (1)

nanospook (521118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966130)

The cops found them six months later.. noting that they were all blonds!

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965230)

I was wondering what the cargo hold looked like. Six crates of vodka, a three-legged dog, a wheel of radioactive cheese, and couple of bags of "flour"?

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (2)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965454)

That sounds like one fucking awesome party.

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (2)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965644)

Sure, except for the complete absence of women.

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (2)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965944)

How is it any different from any other party slashdotters are used to attending?

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966214)

Well, while this was a sausage-fest, presumably the astronauts didn't engage in coprophagia, analingus, fisting, beastiality, necrophilia, watersports, and fellatio to pass the time...

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966402)

What do you think the 3 legged dog is for?

o_O

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965552)

What did the Italian bring?

I was thinking among similar lines but regarding personality. Rather how the Russian greeted everyone, the Chinese started to brag about how they where clearly more educated and hard working and superior to the western people because they got all the companies, technology, economy and whatever, no-one got what the Frenchman where saying, ..

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (0)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965274)

More like a Firesign Theater joke.

"MOSCOW (AP) — After 233 days in a locked steel capsule..." - the article.

NENO: Dig this! I'm calling you from inside a steel box at this University of Conceptual Psychic Surprise in Moscow...Hey, can you see me? What do I look like?
Yeah- black, square- kind of regular
NENO: (happily) That's the steel box! Inside I'm tan and handsome.
- Firesign Theater

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965344)

In Soviet Russia, Mars comes to you!

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965352)

Three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman and an Italian-Colombian walk into a bar.

We should have listened to the Rabbi's suggestion we put higher ceilings in this capsule.

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (1)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965384)

Not often, but sometimes the humor here on /. makes me smile. This one made me bust out laughing. thx

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965446)

Three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman were depressurizing in a bar.

"They should've agreed to my offer", said the Italian-Colombian in a low voice.

Re:Start of a bad, racist joke? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966558)

Why does the line "three Russians, a Chinese, a Frenchman and an Italian-Colombian" sound like a bad and racist "walk in a bar" joke?

Of course it's not complete until there's a chicken or monkey involved.

A Frenchman showering once a week? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965072)

I call bullshit on this one.

Re:A Frenchman showering once a week? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965340)

Well, I think that's the minimum, I don't think they're forced to do it.

Well, otoh, there are 4 others in there that might be quite interested in the Frenchie showering once a week, so...

Re:A Frenchman showering once a week? (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965472)

I am french, I shower twice a day, so fuck off!

Re:A Frenchman showering once a week? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965496)

Which Day?

Re:A Frenchman showering once a week? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965568)

and i bet you still stink.

Translation Issues (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965650)

The problem is translation issues, using a bidet and showering aren't equilivant

Re:A Frenchman showering once a week? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966460)

Brown showers don't count. They only exacerbate the problem.

Re:A Frenchman showering once a week? (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966546)

Seems like you washed away your sense of mildly racist humour. I don't get offended when people makes jokes about kilts and sheep... mmmm... those sexy fluffy beasties...

Posted AC as mum won't let him have a passport (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965978)

Probably posted AC as lives in mum's basement, doesn't have a passport and thinks that France is an island off Key West... or is an American living in Paris and is scared of a thorough kicking from the French Foreign Legion [wikipedia.org]

Best thing about being a member (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965074)

The best thing about being a member of the "crew" is that it's probably the only place in Moscow you can drink the tap water. Water? Food? Weekly showers? Luxury!

Re: Best thing about being a member (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965176)

The best thing about being a member of the "crew" is that it's probably the only place in Moscow you can drink the tap water. Water? Food? Weekly showers? Luxury!

Fabulous bullshit.

Greetings from Moscow.

Not a true experience then. (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965096)

I think knowing you can walk out at any time makes the reality of this experiment far less stressful on those inside the test capsule than if they were actually traveling through space and had no opportunity to leave.

Re:Not a true experience then. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965144)

I think knowing you can walk out and not die at any time makes the reality of this experiment far less stressful on those inside the test capsule than if they were actually traveling through space and had no opportunity to leave.

FTFY

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965460)

I think knowing you can walk out and not die at any time makes the reality of this experiment far less stressful on those inside the test capsule than if they were actually traveling through space and had no opportunity to leave.

Oh right, like trying to breathe vacuum ever actually killed anybody.

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965476)

Hmm.. now that you say it I don't think that it has ever been conclusively proven.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965188)

Does the test capsule simulate weightless travel? I would assume that if the capsule is subject to the 9.81 m/s2 acceleration, that reminds us Americans that we're fat, the experiment is just a small room with a bunch of smelly men boarding together. How is this experiment any different than a college dorm?

I haven't read this or the other articles about the experiment beyond the headlines, so my ignorance is legitimate. Any replies, please give a subjective response riddled with your offtopic emotions of an iPhone vs Android response typically found in the /. Comment waters.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965256)

Russians are doing long-term microgravity (and generally space travel) human experiments for the last 3 decades, it would be my guess they don't see this Mars500 project as an all-encompassing one.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965416)

Does the test capsule simulate weightless travel?

It doesn't need to. You can very easily simulate gravity in deep space by a number of methods:

1) You accelerate half the way there at 9.81 m/s, then when you get halfway you spin the capsule 180 degrees and decelerate at the same rate for second half. The end result is you only have a brief preiod of weightlessness in the middle and at both ends. For the vast majority of the journey you have normal gravity. This does take alot of fuel to provide that constant acceleration and decelleration but it will take alot of fuel to go to Mars anyway. If you can use nuclear power and some sort of Ion thruster this may be feasible in future though.

2) You spin the craft and put the living quarters around the outside.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965576)

(1) is "very easy?" I don't think you can imageine the vast amount of fuel required to perform this little trick for a journey to mars - remember that at the start, you have to accelerate all the fuel for the rest of the journey as well. According tothis Nomogramm [projectrho.com] you need a DeltaV of about 3,5Mm/s, in comparison, a conventional (Hohmam Transfer) from Earth LEO to Mars capture Orbit takes just a bit more than 5km/s. Therefore, this becomes "very easy" as soon as we heve rockets that are at least 1000 times as powerful as the ones we have now (i.e. never).

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965910)

AC covered 1)...

2) We won't have mass budget for that, not in "spin the craft and put the living quarters around the outside" way (radius must be large, otherwise Coriolis force and "gravity" changing with height is likely to result in massive nausea). Separating the craft into two tethered sections, and spinning them just en route, might be perhaps feasible (even if still adding mass of course). Perhaps.

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966252)

I think that they won't do artificial gravity even if it turns out to be easy because they have dozens of doctors eager to measure the impact of microgravity on health and write articles about it.

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965210)

On the other hand, knowing that you're just doing an experiment and not going to a real planet might lower their enthusiasm.

Re:Not a true experience then. (2)

exploder (196936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965222)

Good point. Reminds me of those assholes who were playing at being waterboarded to show how it's "not that bad".

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966084)

Um, except the account I've read talks about how it really feels like dying, even when you know you can stop it at any time.

Re:Not a true experience then. (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965236)

I think it's the reverse, really.

Since they can walk out at any time, aborting is easy, and the mission can fail due to quite minor disagreements. Nobody needs to put up with anything, they just can go "screw it" and leave. That it's been working so far seems to mean it's working amazingly well.

On the other hand, if you're in space, and don't like it, what are you going to do? Throw a gigantic tantrum and beat people up? Things like that will bite you in the ass sooner or later, and are likely to result in your death. I think one's self-preservation instinct should provide some motivation.

Maybe somebody who's been in the military or similar positions can comment: What's it like to be in a life and death situation with a team member you really hate? Do people put aside the personal conflicts until the task gets done?

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

finity (535067) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965290)

I agree with you vadim. If I was in this situation, for at least the first two weeks the idea that I could just quit and go back to everyday life at anytime would be at the top of my mind. There are few consequences to quitting in this situation, compared to those in a real mission. In a real mission you're completely committed both physically and mentally, in a fake mission it's a mental game.

People in a group + "out" button = greater chance (4, Informative)

theblondebrunette (1315661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965560)

I do not agree. First, working in a team increases human pain threshold twice [guardian.co.uk] .
Second, when you're a given a "stop" button, you can endure more pain and actually finish the given exercise. I cannot find the study that showed this, but can give you a short description - a control group of people were given electric shock (or other form of pain) until a certain threshold. Another group of people were going through the same exercise, but were given a button that could make the pain stop right away.
The group that did not have the button, gave up much earlier than the group that had that button. The latter group actually went through the end of the exercise.

So, if you're working in a group (first study above) and you're given a way out, I'd say it's much easier to endure the trip.
Thus I disagree with the parent post.

As for this study, I really think the test subjects should've been told they wouldn't be able to make it out, even if they wanted to..
This, however, could very well be the next test.

Re:People in a group + "out" button = greater chan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966272)

the second test wouldn't proof anything here, they could still stop at any time. pretty much as if they made the door open from the inside or the outside in this experiment.

Re:Not a true experience then. (5, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965698)

You are right on the money. I've spent a year in Antarctica twice for a winterover [gdargaud.net] , meaning 9 months when you have no way out, 13 people sitting in a building with -80C temperatures outside. You HAVE to cope with minor issues. And indeed the only fight broke out on the day before the arrival of the first airplane of the summer. Also you have the feeling of doing something important [research] while there, which is not something you'd get from sitting in a tuna can with nothing to do for 500 days... I'm amazed they've made it so far.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965838)

Actually, there is experimental evidence that supports the OP's claim that, having a way out makes the "trip" less stressful. Volunteers have been subjected to a series of gradually increasing electrical shocks. One group could stop the experiment at any time with a switch they could activate themselves, the other could not. The former resisted MUCH higher shocks than the latter (the one "without a way out").

Re:Not a true experience then. (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965876)

Maybe somebody who's been in the military or similar positions can comment: What's it like to be in a life and death situation with a team member you really hate?

The best people to ask would probably be the crew of nuclear submarines. They'd probably be most suitable psychologically for such stuff.

NASA seem to prefer pilots though.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966290)

Maybe somebody who's been in the military or similar positions can comment: What's it like to be in a life and death situation with a team member you really hate? Do people put aside the personal conflicts until the task gets done?

It's not much different than being in a life-or-death situation with someone you really like. Seriously, you learn to put the team and the mission ahead of yourself.

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965464)

Exactly. Surely they could have used Bradley Manning, or got the Americans to have provided some suspects...sorry, prisoners from Guantanamo Bay or something.

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965572)

This is just a stunt. It's about on the same level as saying they've simulated the color of the logo on the side of the rocket. In other words, trivial, and not really the hard part. This is stupid.

Re:Not a true experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965752)

Let alone the presence of real gravity. Oh, and I'm sure on the real deal you could walk out any time you wanted to as well...just with different results.

So what you're saying is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965930)

They should pull the wool over their eyes and simulate Martian terrain and tell them "You know what, this was real all along" so that upon exit they think they're really on Mars, and then test their reaction.

So what are they supposed to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966224)

Use convicted felons who happen to have the same educational and psychological make-up that would be required for a real mission, so they can force them to stay put?

Yeah, its not a "true" experience. Its a simulation. What's your point?

Re:Not a true experience then. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966236)

I think knowing you can walk out at any time makes the reality of this experiment far less stressful on those inside the test capsule than if they were actually traveling through space and had no opportunity to leave.

Having done something like this (mine was simulating a submarine underway while pierside), no it doesn't.

The question is.. (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966392)

.. can you really just walk away?
Or will they chase you through the desert, hunting you down with black helicopters...

Ahhhhhhh,,, solitude :) (1)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965134)

Less politics on Mars. Sign me up!

one really big psychological difference (3, Funny)

PJ6 (1151747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965152)

None of the men has considered abandoning the mission, although they are free to walk out at any time, mission director and former cosmonaut Boris Morukov told reporters on Friday.

If they wanted more realism (and since it's Russia), they should have told the crew that death in space would be "simulated" if any tried to leave.

Re:one really big psychological difference (1)

MrKane (804219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965204)

I'm with you on this one; it must surely make a "fundamental" psychological difference.
However, I'm not sure there have been many experiments of this type.
I guess it's best to start off "easy" when gathering this kind of data.
They're still heroes, every one of them! :D

Not all danger needs to be simulated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965448)

Seems to me that if they were as serious as they say, they would have built themselves an airtight chamber about ten times the volume of the "vehicle" surrounding the whole test site and dropped it down to 0.01 atm of pressure.
It wouldn't be as serious as truly being in space but it would mean that these guys would spend three years knowing that instant death really DID lurk right on the other side of the wall.
You know, just like in a real mission.
We've had at least one worker die in a vacuum accident at NASA. So we know that a few dozen feet to safety can be quite enough to kill somebody. So why not build an airlock on the "vehicle", put in some basic spacesuits, and perhaps even have them do occasional suit drills. Which I can guarantee they'll take seriously. And if a suit goes bad a year or two in, well, doesn't that just suck? Too bad, so sad, we'll try to be fast if you ever have a breach.

Now THAT would be a significantly more useful test.

Re:Not all danger needs to be simulated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965604)

except that this was mainly a test to see if people could cope with being in the same god damn space for a long time and with the same few people.

you really don't need much more then what they have to test that.

if you wanna test everything at once and it failed, its a lot harder to know what caused the fail.
if you do bit by bit you will find out the hardest parts before you test all at once, making it more likely that your big test succeeds so that you have more data then just 1 week.

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966040)

Why do you think no one has left the capsule yet?

Re:one really big psychological difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966106)

I recall reading about this research where they found that people are more resistant to pain when they know they can stop it whenever they want, perhaps the same applies here.

Yes you can walk out any time. (1, Redundant)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965172)

But we will shoot you...

In Few Words (0, Offtopic)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965174)

Locked Capsule:Mars Mission::Masturbation:Sex

Going to Mars (0)

Iceman4234 (453874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965182)

What could possibly go wrong?????

Not much of a simulation (2)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965190)

Are they assuming a real trip to Mars will include artificial gravity the whole way? Sitting in a can for nearly a year is tough (made tougher by the one-shower-per-week Frenchman sitting next to you), but doing the same without the benefit of gravity would be a whole other ballgame.

Did they at least simulate the unblinking red eye and monotone voice of their mission computer?

Re:Not much of a simulation (2)

haruchai (17472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965268)

Will there be artificial gravity on a real trip? I would hope so as the loss of bone mass would be horrendous. Never mind osteoporosis, these erstwhile astronauts would be amoebas in spacesuits by the time they got to the Red Planet.

Re:Not much of a simulation (2)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965270)

one step at a time.

All these racist comments (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965212)

Make me rather ashamed. The cold war is over Johnny, try to cheer up!

Not that I know the specifics of this test (3, Insightful)

Semptimilius (917640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965260)

From what I've read, they're looking at monitoring mental and physical health of a crew simulating a mission to Mars. The fundamental psychology is different, as pointed out by others, as they can leave at any time. Confinement and isolation are not properly simulated at the fundamental level. The physical side of the test is also not simulated properly, as they are under the influence of Earth's gravity and this has effects on the health of the crew.
 
Perhaps a first step. A better test would be one at the ISS.

Re:Not that I know the specifics of this test (3, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965740)

What I see being pointed out by others, is false belief that people doing this research are morons...

While they are, in fact, closely associated with a space agency most experienced, by far, in long duration orbital stays. Being in a prime position to determine which effects don't depend much on microgravity (etc.), so can as well be tested in the discussed test.

Re:Not that I know the specifics of this test (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966280)

As the poster above says, why do you (and many other Slashdot posters) believe the experimenters are morons?

What's they're doing is how science and research is done - when done properly. You start out with basic, simple, experiments and use the results to design the next experiment.

"although they are free to walk out at any time" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965298)

"although they are free to walk out at any time." This is key. As stressful as the simulation may be, in the back of their heads will always be that safeguard -- as it should; I'm not implying they ought to be forced to remain against their will. Quite different from the actual experience of being locked with other people inside a capsule in space.

Not much of a test (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965302)

Yeah, it's a trip to Mars - minus the lack of gravity, minus the cosmic radiation, minus the occasional pebble whizzing by at thousands of miles per hour, minus the constant knowledge that a few millimeters of metal alloy separates you from pretty much instant death at all times.

It's the take home test of space travel.

Re:Not much of a test (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965442)

more of a political stunt, as it has always been the case with these "space missions".

Re:Not much of a test (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965594)

Why [wikipedia.org] would [wikipedia.org] they [wikipedia.org] need [wikipedia.org] such [wikipedia.org] stunt [wikipedia.org] ? (with the second to last link - keep in mind those are person-days / Soyuz carried 2 or 3)

Maybe... just maybe... it's part of their ongoing research, with the focus on those aspects which were established by them already as largely independent of actual space travel effects, etc.

Re:Not much of a test (3, Interesting)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966550)

Yeah, it's a trip to Mars - minus the lack of gravity, minus the cosmic radiation, minus the occasional pebble whizzing by at thousands of miles per hour, minus the constant knowledge that a few millimeters of metal alloy separates you from pretty much instant death at all times.

Surprisingly enough death isn't actually very quick in the vacuum of space (ref [damninteresting.com] ). You would maintain consciousness for about 15 seconds and be able to take actions which may save your life, and even after unconsciousness you would most likely survive without significant injury if returned to an atmospheric environment within about 90 seconds.

So many questions... (3, Interesting)

gklinger (571901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965312)

If they are free to walk out at any time, why is the capsule locked? (No, seriously.) The other thing that jumps out at me is the duration of the trips but the relatively short amount of time (two days) spent on 'Mars'. Surely a mission to Mars would include more time on the planet? The time spent on the planet would be more intellectually stimulating than the spaceflight (one presumes) and might offer relief/reward from the journey to Mars and better prepare the crew psychologically for the return mission. I wonder why that wasn't factored in. The difficulty of simulating the on-planet experience perhaps?

Bonus question: Would an actual mission to Mars pay astronauts more than $70,000 per year?

Re:So many questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965626)

Have you seen what's going on in the world these days??? It's crazy! The capsule is probably locked from the inside, just like the basement door is unless my Mom goes out for groceries or if I forage for food in the fridge late at night.

Re:So many questions... (1)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965888)

If they are free to walk out at any time, why is the capsule locked? (No, seriously.)

They lock the capsule because in space the capsule would be locked. They are free to walk out at any time because they can ask to leave any time and the capsule will be opened to let them out.

Surely a mission to Mars would include more time on the planet? The time spent on the planet would be more intellectually stimulating than the spaceflight (one presumes) and might offer relief/reward from the journey to Mars and better prepare the crew psychologically for the return mission. I wonder why that wasn't factored in.

That is being factored in. There might be a problem when they arrive which means they have to leave almost immediately, and so they need to simulate a worst-case scenario.

Bonus question: Would an actual mission to Mars pay astronauts more than $70,000 per year?

If top brass know it's actually a one way mission, they pretty much have a free hand to offer 10x that salary...

Phillip.

Re:So many questions... (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966112)

Bonus question: Would an actual mission to Mars pay astronauts more than $70,000 per year?

If top brass know it's actually a one way mission, they pretty much have a free hand to offer 10x that salary...

That only helps if newegg will ship to mars.

Re:So many questions... (1)

mrfrostee (30198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966504)

There might be a problem when they arrive which means they have to leave almost immediately...

The 26 month phasing of the Earth/Mars orbits pretty much rules out leaving immediately.

Give them some credit! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965332)

Everybody's bitching because this isn't an exactly perfect simulation (gravity, you-can-leave-at-any-time, etc) but give them some credit: at least they're doing something. If you're a fellow American, you have no grounds for complaining.

Re:Give them some credit! (1)

Musically_ut (1054312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965566)

If you're a fellow American, you have no grounds for complaining.

We all are Slashdotters here, you insensitive clod.

And as the legend goes, we are the only species in the Universe which invented ear plugs before wheels because of noisy complaining babies.

Re:Give them some credit! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965702)

No we invented ear plugs after marriage.

The wheel got delayed because the man refused to listen to his wife on which shape was best for a wheel.

Re:Give them some credit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966000)

in mans defense, we had earplugs and just couldn't hear our wifes.

What's special about it? (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965362)

We've had that experiment a while ago. A bunch of unemployed freaks locked together into a can for a year, televised daily.

They called it Big Brother.

Re:What's special about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965482)

I believe its now called the Jersey Shore

Re:What's special about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965860)

It's like Big Brother, only with booze and chlamydia!

How much buttsecks was there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965398)

I'm partially joking, partially serious. Were they celibate the whole time? Maybe it would be more prudent to send flamers or if not that, artificially suppress their sex drives.

occasionally delayed ?? (2)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965428)

Do they use simulated subspace communication the other times?

Are there other parts of the "simulation" that are modified for convenience? Can they have pizza delivered?

Knowledge and its effects. (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965494)

Surely, they know they are on earth ...

The most crippling aspect of a mission to mars would be the psychological problems due to the knowledge you are not at home, on earth, you are not really safe and so on.

To be more true to life, the "crew" would have been made to actually believe they were in space. Of course that would be extremely tricky. Gravity and all.

Perhaps however could have sent them in LEO and simulate a mission there.

In soviet Russia (1)

He who knows (1376995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965512)

Mission abandons you. Then you end up locked in a small confined space.

Looks realistic inside (1)

inkhorn (650877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965550)

if long distance space travel means incarceration in a wooden submarine.

One little problem with this (1)

Schemat1c (464768) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965562)

they are free to walk out at any time

That one factor is why this test is useless. It would be like researching how long a human can hold his breath but he is "free to breath at any time".

Re:One little problem with this (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965678)

To be fair, they'd be free to walk (or float) out at any time on a real mission to Mars. They might be more disinclined to do it on a real mission though...

Imagine their disappointment... (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34965696)

When they finally open the capsule, and find they're still on earth.

Re:Imagine their disappointment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34966226)

When they finally open the capsule, and find they're still on earth.

I'm sure there was a Twilight Zone episode like this. If there wasn't, then it was twilight and I was in the zone ... or something like that!

Cool! Meanwhile, back in the U.S... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34965714)

We're still arguing about who can plunder the treasury for the most entitlements! Yay Obamacare! Yay bailouts! Yay executive branch interfering with a couple hundred years of bankruptcy laws to give unions priority to GMC's and Chrysler's assets BEFORE the bond holders! Yay government pensioners draining state and municipal treasuries and sticking it to Joe Taxpayer! U.S.A!!! U.S.A.!!! U.S.A.!!!

Self defeating (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34966488)

although they are free to walk out at any time

That kind of makes everything different, doesn't it.

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