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ESA presents European participants in Mars500 isolation study

08.12.2008
March 2009 will see two European participants entering a set of modules at the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow. Together with four Russian participants, they will be sealed inside these isolation chambers for 105 days.

This joint ESA IBMP campaign is a preparatory study leading up to the 520-day isolation study in the form of a full-fledged simulation of a mission to Mars that is due to start end-2009.

As with a real space mission, the two European participants will have European backups. The backups (three in this case) will go through the same training and preparation and will be able to step in at the last moment if need be. In addition, they will have tasks to carry out in the mission control centre over the 105 days.

ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight has a longstanding tradition of conducting research on the physiological and psychological aspects of spaceflight. ESA’s bedrest studies, in particular, are at the forefront of scientific research to understand how the human body reacts under microgravity conditions, the aim being to devise effective countermeasures and enable humans to undertake long-term missions in space. Mars500 is part of these scientific efforts to prepare for human exploration missions.

These five Europeans were selected following a thorough process that started in May at the European Astronauts Centre in Cologne once the initial 5600 applications had been reduced to a shortlist of 32. The selection procedure for these candidates was similar to that applicable to real astronauts. Three are of French nationality, one is Swedish and one German.

On the occasion of the finalisation of the selection process, media are invited to attend a press conference at ESA Headquarters on 11 December starting at 15:30, during which the European participants will be presented. Media representatives wishing to attend the event are kindly requested to fill in the accreditation form (linked on the right) and return it by fax to the ESA Headquarters Media Relations Office.

Franco Bonacina | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/Pr_48_2008_p_EN.html

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