PARIS (Reuters) - The European Space Agency is looking for volunteers to make a pretend trip to Mars.
The job will last almost two years, the living conditions will be cramped and the food all pre-packed -- just like on the spacecraft that might one day make the epic voyage to our remote red neighbor.
"To go to Mars is still a dream and one of the last gigantic challenges. But one day, some of us will be on precisely that journey to the Red Planet," ESA said in a statement.
"The crew will experience extreme isolation and confinement. They will lose sight of planet Earth. A radio contact will take 40 minutes to travel to us and then back to the space explorers," it added.
To understand how humans might cope in such extreme conditions, ESA and the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) have decided to send a joint crew of six on a 520-day simulated mission to Mars.
"The simulation follows the mission profile of a real Mars mission, including an exploration phase on the surface of Mars," ESA said.
The project will kick off with one or two shorter, 105-day studies in 2008, followed by the full 520-day study late next year or early in 2009. In all, 12 volunteers are needed to complete the various test projects.
this sure is not for me - but maybe a member of GOTAPEX might just make the test misson team. !