If you’ve ever pretended to be on the Red Planet, you’re not alone. This is Crew 138 of the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a team of scientists who are researching what it would be like to live on Mars by pretending. From Wikipedia:
The crews usually consist of a mix of astronomers, physicists, biologists, geologists, engineers and the occasional journalist. Each crew member is usually assigned a role: Commander, Executive Officer (ExO), Health and Safety Officer (HSO), Crew Biologist, Crew Geologist or Chief Engineer.
In addition to cooking, cleaning, exercise, HAB maintenance, GreenHab gardening, etc, the crew has mission objectives to complete. A final mission report is written from their notes, analysis, and experiences so that future Mars astronauts and explorers can be well prepared. From National Geographic:
On the mission, the international team is working on in-the-field mapping, collecting and analyzing rock samples, measuring the payoff from exercise, and taking blood samples to monitor crew health. The team is working in mock space suits and testing work protocols indoors and outside.
The first days were largely spent learning to live and work in the Habitat, which is a round two-story structure that measures about 25 feet across.
After the crew enters full simulation, the Habitat contains all the food and water we need, as well as work and sleep quarters.
This team was based in the Utah desert, but there have been other “extraterrestrial” sites: Haughton Crater on Devon Island, and next to the Krafla Rift Volcano in Iceland. There’s also one in the works 324 miles (521 km) north of Adelaide, South Australia. For more information about the project, including volunteer requirements, check out desert.marssociety.org, and read more at National Geographic.
Watch more Mars videos, including a topographically accurate landscapes of Mars and everything Mars Curiosity.
On December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 crew orbited the moon and discovered Earth. Astronauts James Lovell, command module pilot, William Anders, lunar module pilot, and Frank Borman, commander, were the first people to leave our planet to orbit another rocky body in space, and in this NASA video, we can travel with them to witness the moment they captured this iconic photo of home: Earthrise.
The 45th anniversary video uses data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft with audio recordings, data, and photographs from the orbiting lunar excursion module (LEM) to recreate this exhilarating and unanticipated moment of teamwork.
In the archives: more from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and oodles of amazing videos about Earth.
via sagan sense.
This Feb 2013 promo video for the Kibo Robot Project really builds the excitement for having a 13.4 inch tall robot astronaut in space… just in case that didn’t already sound exciting. (Turn on the translated captions!)
On August 9, 2013, an Astro Boy-inspired, talking robot named Kirobo — a mix of Kibo, "hope" in Japanese, and robot — will arrive at the International Space Station on a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) supply ship.
Kirobo will work directly with JAXA engineer, astronaut, and human Koichi Wakata, who will take command of the ISS in November. The robot’s presence will also explore “how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods.” Among other functions, it is built with voice-, face-, and emotion- recognition technologies.
From PC Mag:
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds for a robot to become an astronaut. Researchers had to subject Kirobo to a number of different tests to determine whether the robot would be suitable for its weightless mission, including thermal analysis testing, electromagnetic compatibility testing, and a test to determine whether the general background noise on board the Internal Space Station might otherwise interfere with the robot’s voice-recognition capabilities.
Tested and approved, Kirobo left Earth on a rocket that took off from Tanegashima Space Center on August 3rd.
There are more robot videos and astronaut videos in the archives.