Student simulated Mars mission
5 students, 25 square meters and 101 hours. Those are the basic parameters of this unique Mars mission which takes place every year as a part of the Expedition Mars competition. It is an unparalleled opportunity for young Czechs and Slovaks to try the life of an astronaut, learn about science, space and teamwork. Simulated Mars mission has been a part of Expedition Mars since the year 2014 and in December the fifth consecutive mission will take place. During these missions a team of around dozen supervisors is present, a number which doesn’t include many others that worked throughout the year to prepare the simulator, the experiments in it or the software and hardware needed for its proper function.
Young astronauts inside the simulator experience various situations during their flight. They naturally go through daily life on a spaceship but their stay includes different crises that can come during a real mission, like an unexpected quarantine or a computer failure. For the whole duration of the mission these astronauts fulfill various science experiments, carry out assignments connected to ship maintenance and daily life. In the middle of the mission they also perform simulated extra-vehicular activity on Mars.
During these 101 hours they have no contact with the outside world but with Mission Control Centre. Connected only by a chat, but with a skilled and experienced team of supervisors that guide them the whole time. They step out of their comfort zone and explore their mental and physical endurance. In such tight space and unusual circumstances it is essential for them to work as a great team and overcome any struggles as fast as possible. These young people come out of this mission with unique experience they couldn’t have gained anywhere else and are influenced for years to come. After all, not many people their age can say they’ve flown to a different planet (even if it was just a simulation).
Simulator consist of four parts, main module, laboratory, service module and lander.
The main module is the most important part of the ship. During the flight around 80% of all the crew’s activities take place there. It includes the bridge with computers that provide communication with MCC and show the ship’s telemetry. In this room is not only the bridge, but also sleeping quarters and storage units for materials needed for experiments. Main module also includes docking adapter for reception of any supplies or other materials.
Onboard laboratory is the main workplace of the crew’s biologist. It is a place designed for biological and chemical experiments isolated from the rest of the spaceship. It includes a decontamination chamber and a computer adjusted for lab work.
This module connects the main module and lander. Storage units with food supplies are located in this otherwise empty corridor.
Is used only for the landing on and return Mars itself. The crew doesn’t have access into it for most of the flight because it isn’t inhabitable in long term.