From Information Week:
An international team of researchers shuttered themselves inside a virtual spacecraft in Russia Thursday to begin a 520-day simulation of a manned mission to Mars.
The six-man team isn’t scheduled to exit their self-contained environment, which includes a mock up of the Red Planet’s surface, until November, 2011.
During their mission, the crewmembers will ‘fly to Mars’ during the first 250 days, land and explore terrain for a month, and then embark on a 230 day return flight.
Their enclosure is equipped with enough food, water, and other supplies to last through the duration of the period. It’s also armed with video games, books, and other materials designed to stave off boredom.
The project, called Mars500, is underwritten by the European, Russian, and Chinese space agencies, and operated by Moscow’s Institute for Medical and Biological Problems.
The goal is to gain a better understanding of the physical and psychological stresses astronauts would encounter during a months-long trip to Mars…
[continues at Information Week]