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- Six Israeli astronauts are embarking on a mission to simulate life on Mars by staying in a space station habitat built in the Negev desert.
- The Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station (D-MARS) project aims to teach astronauts about research and exploration on Mars.
Six Israeli astronauts are about to experience life on Mars without actually leaving Earth.
The astronauts—trained for spaceflight and conducting technical testing—will stay in a specialized structure in the heart of Israel's Negev desert near Mitzpe Ramon that simulates the unique environment of Mars, according to the Israeli website NoCamels. It is the first such space station built in Israel, the report noted.
The project, called Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station (D-MARS), is led by Hillel Rubinstein, a postdoctoral student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), under the guidance of Dan Blumberg, BGU's vice president and dean for research and development and head of BGU's Earth and Planetary Imaging Facility. Its goal is to promote research on space. If successful, it's likely that we could see more research missions taking advantage of this location as companies like SpaceX aim to colonize Mars.
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The location chosen is similar to Mars in many ways, including soil structure, geology, aridity, appearance, and isolation, the publication reported. These conditions are difficult to find elsewhere on Earth.
D-MARS "pulls Israel into the forefront of space, and particularly Mars, exploration," Rubinstein told NoCamels.
The astronauts will live in the habitat and spend each day as if they are actually on Mars, according to the report. That means wearing spacesuits and conducting exploratory missions in the area. They will also communicate with a control and operations center via an AMOS-7 satellite. There will even be simulated "blackout periods," representing when Mars passes almost entirely behind the sun from the perspective of the Earth, and radio communication is impeded.
"With the AMOS-7 satellite, we are adding an interplanetary-type communications facet to our experiments by simulating various challenges for our analog astronauts to handle and overcome," Rubinstein told NoCamels.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.