AMADEE-20: Israel-based analog mission to Mars ends after 3 weeks

The three-week analog mission to Mars at Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel came to an end on Sunday when the six analog astronauts left the AMADEE-20 habitat for the first time without space suit simulators.

The mission, AMADEE-20, was the latest Mars analog mission launched by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), carried out in partnership with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and the D-MARS habitat.

The mission focused on turning analog astronauts into characters, simulating the experience of being on the Red Planet. The six analog astronauts, made up of personnel from Portugal, Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, had been completely isolated to simulate being in such a habitat on Mars, and remained in contact with a control group from the mission in Austria. .

The habitat had an airlock and analog astronauts had to wear spacesuits when exiting it for any experiments, just as they would have to do on Mars itself.

“If you feel the Martian atmosphere on Mars, you are probably dead,” said Sophie Gruber of the AMADEE-20 leadership team when the mission began. “We do not want to simulate the atmosphere, because exposure to it would not occur without dying and it is [therefore] Irrelevant.”

During the mission, multiple experiments were carried out, such as simulating the psychological experience of being isolated in this habitat.

“We had a mission that combines isolation and the psychological burden that this implies, with very advanced technologies in the (virtual learning environments) for spacewalks,” said the second in command of the mission, Iñigo Muñoz-Elorza, to the agency. of news in Spanish. EFE Agency after leaving the habitat.

“Our spacesuit simulator is one of the most advanced for analog missions and we have also had the support of several rovers and drones to fly and be able to make a progressive map of the area around the habitat, where we then did some science.”

Mission experiments also focused on testing the equipment, to see what might happen on a real mission to Mars.

“This type of mission is important because it allows us to test the equipment, the experiments and the procedures that we want to use one day on Mars, to know in advance here on Earth all the problems, all the things that could go wrong, before sending our missions to Mars, “mission commander Joao Lousada told Efe.

But many other experiments had focused on being able to search for life on Mars.

This has been a major focus of recent missions to the Red Planet, named for the iron oxide found on its surface. In fact, the search for life is one of the main objectives of NASA’s recently launched Perseverance rover and Ingenuity Mars helicopter.

At first glance, this may seem confusing, because while the existence of life signs on Mars is questionable, their presence in Ramon Crater has never been in dispute. But that is precisely why this site was chosen.

“We have spent an exploration cascade looking at the sequence of the experiment and the data flow to make sure that if we look at a particular place in the desert, we can make sure we don’t miss a thing,” Gruber had said. “We started with remote viewing from satellites; then we send drones and rovers and finally our astronauts.

“We made sure we researched it so well that we know all about it. By using a place like Ramon Crater, which is just as well studied, as our analog, we can see how well our strategy worked by comparing our data with the data that is already known. “

The last week of the mission focused on experiments that needed more data, such as the MEROP experiment that saw analog astronauts directing the Mercator Rover from habitat, as well as remote exploration missions conducted by Exra-Vehicular Activities (EVA).

Participating agencies and analog astronauts celebrated the mission’s conclusion on social media.

The OeWF Mission Support Center shared a video of them on Twitter, signing after the mission’s completion.

The departure of the analog astronauts from the habitat was shared online by the ISA, with the caption “mission accomplished!”

But while the simulation itself is over, the scientific work has just begun, as experts must analyze and interpret the data collected from the experiment and then publish the results.

The first results of the mission will be presented at the AMADEE-20 Science Workshop, tentatively scheduled for spring 2022.

“It was again an incredibly inspiring experience to run a simulation of Mars with all the volunteer, motivated, well prepared, trained and dedicated team members,” the OeWF said in a statement. “When people are on fire for something, it makes a huge difference to their passion!”

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