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Back then during the moon missions, the MCC on Earth could respond via radio communication in almost real time to every unpredictable event. We all know the scene from Apollo 13 (“Houston, we have a problem”). Even rescue missions into space are possibly by now.
Radio communication between Earth and Mars is a bit different. Every transmission takes about 10 minutes in one way – an answer will take 20 minutes. Therefore, for mars missions – different than for moon missions – the flight crew is left alone over long periods, having to act autonomously.
What could be more natural for the meticulous mission planers, than to pack as much stuff as possibly trying to prevent that anything could go wrong? Although terrestrial capacities are limited as well, 3 trucks full with tons of high-quality equipment are sent from Innsbruck and Noordwijk (Netherlands) on their way for the expedition. Wherever a bit of cargo space is left, the 10 team members from Innsbruck try to store their personal assets. Because one of the main targets of analogue research is to come as close as possible to the real environmental conditions, after extensive calculations many hundred kilos of food are carried to Rio Tinto as well. A huge part of it is water. In a real life Mars mission, it is possible that water could be loaded in orbit – unless future water recycling systems could assure a safe and permanent water treatment.
The covered distance during this mission from all participants out of three countries is around 37.000 kilometers. Not counted for is the trip from the Japanese TV team to Rio Tinto.
The flight route between Earth and Mars is around 350,000.000km long. In relation the covered distance during the Rio Tinto mission (37.000 expedition kilometers) amounts only to 0.01 percent of this way.
Even if the first manned mars mission is not too far away: if you know the effort to run the Rio Tinto operation, then you start to think about a manned mars mission – there is still a lot of analogue research work to do! The same goes for transport logistics.
This article is available in: German
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