Credit: ESA/IBMP


If you are going stir-crazy in these times of confinement, think of it as potential training for a Mars trek.

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut support engineer Romain Charles has a set of nine tips on how to live in isolation (video link below). Charles spent 520 days locked in a mockup spacecraft.

High-fidelity simulation

The Mars500 locked in six ‘marsonauts’ within a simulated spaceship near Moscow, Russia at the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) for 520 days, the time it would take to fly to Mars and back plus 30 days spent exploring its surface.

It was the first full-length, high-fidelity simulation of a human mission to the Red Planet. The crew went into lockdown on June 3, 2010, and they did not open the hatch until 17 months later on November 4, 2011.

Module for Mars 500 experience at Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP). Credit: ESA/IBMP

Psychological survival

The Mars 500 was a deemed successful in that it proved that humans can psychologically survive the inevitable isolation that is needed for a mission to Mars and back.

The crew did well coping with the simulated mission, with little variation in food and even a communication delay over 12 minutes one-way.

The participants from Italy, Russia, China and France had no external cues such as the Sun going down at night to remind them when to sleep.

Go to this ESA video at:

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