Simulation of Mars conditions, on the Earth, for a team of six, in Israel’s Negev desert

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Six so-called “analogue astronauts”from Austria, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, dressed in spacesuits, will live in isolation until the end of the month on a mission to simulate conditions on Mars at Makhtesh Ramon, a 500-meter (1,600-foot) deep, 40 kilometer (25 mile) wide crater in Israel’s sun-baked Negev desert. The desert resembles the Red Planet with its stony wilderness and orange hues. However on Mars the temperature is minus 60 degrees Celsius and the atmosphere is not fit for breathing. The Austrian Space Forum has set up a pretend Martian base solar-powered with the Israeli space agency. The habitat, right now, is the most complex, the most modern analog research station on this planet.

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The Israel project is part of mission Amadee-20. The interior of the base is austere, with a small kitchen and bunk beds. German astronaut Anika Mehlis is the only woman on the team. She is a trained microbiologist. The six team members are constantly on camera, their vital signs monitored, their movements inside are tracked to analyze favorite spots for congregating. They will carry out more than 20 experiments in fields including geology, biology and medicine. Some experiments include testing out drones, rovers and analyzing the mental and physical health of the astronauts while in isolation. The space suit carries some 50 kg (110 lb) of equipment. NASA envisions the first human mission to Mars will launch in 2030.