An international crew of six men spent 105 days in isolation, imitating a flight to the Red Planet as part of an experiment.
It took place at the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies in Moscow and has just finished.
During the mission, the crew of six volunteers experienced all aspects of a flight to Mars, from the launch to the return journey.
Staying in an isolated capsule, they also had to deal with simulated emergencies, and communication delays of 20 minutes, as this is how long it takes for a signal to travel to Mars and back.
The astronauts said they all became friends and added that, if there was a real expedition to Mars, they’d be ready to take part.
Sergey Ryazansky, the captain, said “the experiment was truly a cooperative effort between many scientists and the crew”.
“We constantly felt they were supporting us. We felt there were no differences between Russian and European astronauts – it was all one crew. I want to thank all the guys for this,” he said.
Along with Sergey, three more Russians – astronaut Oleg Artemyev, oncologist Aleksey Baranov, and sports physiologist Aleksey Shpakov – and two members of the European Space Agency, French civilian pilot Cyrille Fournier and German mechanical engineer Oliver Knickel took part in the simulated flight.
Each of the volunteers will receive 15,000 euros plus bonuses for successful experiments.
The 105-day study precedes a full 520-day simulation of a mission to Mars due to start later this year. It will include all stages of a trip to Mars: a 250-day flight to the planet, a 30-day stay on its surface, and a 240-day return flight.
The crew members’ routine will be similar to that of astronauts on a real space flight. They will even have the same diet.