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By David Reneke

Welcome Back – From Mars

David Reneke is an astronomy lecturer and teacher, a feature writer for major Australian newspapers and magazines, and a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio. Subscribe to David’s free Astro-Space newsletter at

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Since June last year, the six crew members of a simulated mission to Mars have been isolated in a special facility near Moscow. Their “arrival” back on Earth was scheduled for 4 November, with the crew going directly into quarantine for 4 days of medical checks.

Mars500 is the first full duration simulation of a human mission to Mars in a mock facility faithfully duplicating almost all aspects of real spaceflight. The only things that couldn’t be incorporated into this vital exercise, of course, were weightlessness and the little-known effects of radiation.

During the almost 18-month duration, the international crew comprising two Europeans, three Russians and one Chinese have “flown” to Mars, “landed” on their destination planet and made several spacewalks on a simulated Martian terrain.

They have been faced with monotony, delayed communications and complete lack of daylight in their windowless habitat – things that would almost certainly be encountered on a real interplanetary flight lasting several months.

In order to get a crew to Mars intact, space scientists know that you need to get your psychological profiling right. One of the biggest unknowns of deep spaceflight is human behaviour and how interactions between the crew members are affected during a long stay in a confined space while under stress. This was the main focus of the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.