Israeli researchers complete simulated Mars mission in rugged Negev desert

Mars trip 2018
The planet Mars is shown May 12, 2016 in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope view taken May 12, 2016 when it was 50 million miles from Earth. Earth's neighbor planet makes its closest approach in a decade this month, providing sky-watchers with a celestial show from dusk to dawn. Reuters

Israel's Science and Technology Ministry revealed on Monday that a team of six scientists has successfully completed a simulated Mars mission in Israel's Negev desert. In the mock mission, these scientists spent four days in the Negev desert where living conditions on the Red Planet were replicated.

This completed mission marks the first of the several planned 'expeditions and studies' to Mars, held in the Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station (D-MARS)facility near the town of Mitzpeh Ramon.

During the mission, participants explored various crucial elements needed to do in the Martian conditions including effective satellite communications, measuring the radiation, checking the soil to find traces of extraterrestrial life forms, and the general psychological effects inflicted to the human mind during times of isolation.

During the time of the mock mission, researchers ate food from capsules and lived in specially designed quarters. Whenever they came out of the pod for conducting experiments, they wore spacesuits.

The organizers of this mock experiment said that the Ramon crater area in the Negev desert was spotted for this mission, as the area has many similarities to the actual Martian environment in terms of geology, aridity, and isolation.

Apart from preparing themselves for a Mars expedition in the coming years, the major purpose of conducting such a mission is to increase the interest in space among young people in the country.

"D-Mars is half about the research, and the other half is about the outreach. A major part of this project is getting public interest and getting students interested in space," said Guy Ron, one of the study participants and a nuclear physics professor from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Reuters reports.

This is not the first time that a mock Mars colony has been prepared on Earth. The United Arab Emirates is busy setting up a new colony which resembles the Martian conditions, and the country aims to make this colony a fully fledged city built with Martian conditions.