Scientists Look For Ways To Make ISS Trip Feel Like Mars Voyage

Recently, NASA is scouring for ways to make trips to the International Space Station (ISS) feel like a voyage to Mars.  The reason? To better prepare for a possible actual voyage to the Red Planet in the future.

That being said, an actual trip to the Mars is significantly different from a trip to the Space Station just orbiting outside of Earth. Still, NASA wants to prepare by mimicking the possible different aspects of it. As a result, NASA is currently looking for ways to host “practice sessions” to and from the ISS, without interfering with the station’s activities and other priorities.

"My job is to imagine what a Mars mission would look like: Where would we go, what would we do, and how would we do it? Going to Mars would be difficult, but fortunately, we don't have to start from scratch, because we've already built these other platforms that we can use to practice some of the operations that we would use on a human Mars mission,” Michelle Rucker, an engineer at NASA's Exploration Mission Planning Office, said during a panel held at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington last month.

According to spaceflight professionals, these are called practice scenarios analog missions. At the moment, the Mars-analog missions that have been striking and challenging are ones that isolate astronauts on exotic locations on Earth. However, these can’t quite replicate actual spaceflight characteristics, and so NASA decided to look for other ways to do it, and so the new analog for Mars missions became the to and fro flights from Earth to the ISS.

"Every analog has some advantages, and every analog has some disadvantages. It's worth thinking about what does [the space station] match and not match across all the different hazards of human spaceflight,” Julie Robinson, chief scientist of NASA's International Space Station Program, said.

However, due to the ISS being much more dynamic than a spacecraft headed to Mars, it’s a poor laboratory model for the type of constraints that astronauts headed to Mars would go through. Nevertheless, some aspects of the flight can be replicated aboard the space station, such as increasing the number of people in space who have to stay there for more than six months, which is a priority.

Another aspect is time out on the space station, which they can use to accurately gauge out how long they would need before a resupply mission is required.

Mars Scientists have been exploring Mars to find potential signs of life and to see if it could support new organisms in the future. Pixabay