A space scientist in France is using the current coronavirus-induced lockdown in the country to carry out an experiment that simulates the conditions of a mission to Mars. According to the scientist, the results of the experiment can be used to help astronauts deal with the effects of an expedition to the Red Planet.

Currently, the number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 100,000 in France. Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the lockdown would most likely continue until May 11.

Mars Mission Experiment

Mars colony
Team SEArch /Apis Cor’s 3D modeled design

With the entire country being urged to stay at home, space scientists in France took the opportunity to carry out important tests related to future missions to Mars.

Stephanie Lizy-Destrez, an associate professor of space systems engineering at the ISAE-SUPAERO space and aeronautics institute in France, recently enlisted the help of 60 students who are currently staying at a dormitory in Toulouse. The students were asked to volunteer to participate in an experiment to replicate certain conditions of a Mars mission.

Simulating Mars Mission Conditions

Mars

Although travelling across space to the Red Planet is very from simply staying inside a dorm room, Lizy-Destrez noted that the focus of the experiment is to study the effects of confinement that comes with the mission.

Unlike missions to the Moon and the International Space Station, travelling to Mars can take a very long time. This means astronauts will be confined to the tight space of a spacecraft for months before reaching their destination. According to Lizy-Destrez, these conditions are slightly similar to what the students are experiencing in the experiment.

Objective Of The Experiment

During the course of the study, they will have to stay inside their dorms for certain periods of time while conducting tasks such as completing memory and mental agility tests. They also have to maintain a daily journal where they can talk about their experiences.

One of the participants, aerospace engineering masters student Tom Lawson, said that completing the tasks can be challenging given the conditions of the experiment."A lot of the students are finding it extremely difficult to keep up with their work and keep up with what they have to do," Lawson said, according to the New York Times. As noted by Lizy-Destrez, the overall effects of the experiment on the students will be used to analyze how astronauts will be affected by their long trip to Mars.