The Mars500 experiment will see six people enclosed in a 550 cubic metre living space, replicating a space ship on its way to Mars on a 520 day journey, which will include 250 days of getting there and back and 20 days on a simulated version of the Red Planet. The mockup includes a command module, a lander and a simulation of the Martian surface. The crew, half of which will set foot on ‘Mars’ and half will remain in orbit, will be composed of three Russians, two Europeans and one Chinese.
The experiment will test the psychological response to the enclosure as well as the capability of technology to keep the crewmembers alive, without endangering them too much. The whole thing takes place in Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, where a previous shorter version or two have been run. There are no windows into the facility and communication with the outside world will be via email. After a certain length of time a delay of up to forty minutes between broadcast of a signal and reception of a response will be introduced.