Trip to Mars

Simulation Trip to Mars Commences for 45-days: A Mars Mission Update

Trip to Mars? Has it commenced already? Well, not in reality but definitely in the form of simulation and trainings. Here is a quick update on the progress of NASA’s Mars mission. Read this blog to know how a four-member crew has begun their 45-day simulation trip at the HERA.

Trip to Mars’s moon Phobos has begun in the guise of a scientific experiment at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). This is the second mission of Hera’s Campaign 6 that has commenced recently and will end after 45 days on March 14, 2022. The first mission was wrapped up on November 15, 2021.

This is a simulation mission which aims to study the impact of long-duration space travel on the human body. The mission with four crew members will resemble the actual exploration mission to Phobos and mimic environmental conditions similar to Mar’s moon.

Who are the crew members?

Trip to Mars
Crew members of the second HERA mission: Pietro Di Tillio, Dragos Michael Popescu, Jared Broddrick, and Patrick Ridgley (Left to Right)

Image Credit: India Today

A four-member crew has set out on a 45-day simulation trip to Mars in the HERA facility. The crew members who have volunteered for the mission are Pietro Di Tillio, Jared Broddrick, Dragos Michael Popescu, and Patrick Ridgley. The hatch officially closed on Friday, January 28, 2022 and the four members will come out of their ground-based habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston after completing the designated period of the mission.

What’s planned for the simulated trip to Mars?

While the main aim of the mission is to observe the effects of prolonged space travel upon humans. Besides this, the 45-day mission will also analyze the impact of isolation and confinement upon the crew members.

The crew will be responsible for carrying out scientific experiments during their stay within the Phobos-like habitat. A total of 15 experiments will be conducted with seven of them returning investigations and eight will be new ones.

The information gathered through these experiments will be helpful in prepping astronauts for the real-time Artemis exploration missions to the Moon, for trips to lunar Gateway outposts, and ultimately for long-duration Mars missions.

Another crucial part of this simulation trip is to determine the delays in communication that the crew will actually face when they will reach Phobos in actuality. Delays in communication have to be worked out so that they don’t impact the real missions drastically.

It will also help to learn more about team integrity and how people would behave in autonomous environments.

What is HERA?

Trip to Mars
HERA External View

Image Credit: NASA

Human Exploration Research Analog is an Earth-based facility that is used for conducting space research mimicking different scenarios and environmental conditions. HERA is a cylindrical three-story habitat unit with four ports. It is approximately 25 feet in height and 47 feet wide. It is currently located at the Johnson Space Center which is integrated with a simulated airlock and hygiene module.

It is an analog mission that aims to prep astronauts, teams of aeronautics engineers, and ground teams for explorations and space research on the Mars, the Moon, and other areas. This unit is created to mimic space environments and help teams of volunteers to train and adapt to space-like habitats.

Further, it facilitates testing robotic equipment, vehicles, communication devices, storage facilities, conducting mobility exercises, power generation drills, infrastructure integrity, and a lot more.

In addition to this, behavioral effects and psychological effects are also monitored under conditions of isolation, confinement, mental fatigue, etc.

Two other simulated missions are scheduled for this year with the final mission to end on September 12, 2022.

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