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Analog Astronauts cut off from outside world until October 31st
Following intensive preparations, the isolation phase of the 13th Mars Analog Mission of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) starts today. More than 25 experiments will be conducted, including two in cooperation with the European Space Agency ESA. The analog astronauts will live and work in a habitat specially developed for the mission. During activities outside the habitat, they will wear an elaborate space suit prototype, which was developed and built by the OeWF. Until October 31st, the team consisting of one woman and five men from Austria, Germany, Israel, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands will do research for future astronautical Mars missions. The Mars Analog Mission AMADEE-20 will take place in cooperation with the Israel Space Agency hosted by D-MARS in the Negev desert in Israel. More than 200 researchers from 25 countries are involved in this international mission under Austrian leadership.
Pictures of the ongoing mission can be downloaded here. Use free of charge is allowed in combination with stories concerning the OeWF and when credit is given.
Avi Blasberger, Director of Israel Space Agency: “Our cooperation with the Austrian Space Forum and hosting AMADEE-20 in Israel is in line with our policy to support science, to be part of the international efforts for human exploration and to further our outreach and educational program. We are proud to be part of it and will invest all the required efforts to ensure its success.”
Dr. Gernot Grömer, director of the Austrian Space Forum: „With AMADEE-20 we are further increasing the authenticity of our simulations. This is our first mission where our analog astronauts will live and work entirely independent in their habitat for three weeks. A small on-site support team will be available for technical problems and maintenance, but will not be allowed to interact with the analog astronauts. The entire management and control of the mission will as always be carried out by the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck. Communication between the Mission Support Center and the crew in Israel has a built in 10-minute delay. This is how we simulate the signal propagation time between Earth and Mars.“
Mordechai Rodgold, Israeli ambassador to Austria, sees the Amadee-20 project as an extraordinary and almost “extraterrestrially” innovative project. “It is a further milestone in the scientific cooperation between Austria and Israel and an expression of the excellent relations between our two countries,” says Ambassador Rodgold. “The aim of this internationally important technological event is to make scientific findings from it usable for all of us. The geological composition of the 40 km long Machtesch Ramon crater in the Negev desert is in many aspects similar to that on Mars and therefore makes this place an ideal setting for this analog Mars mission.” He wishes the team a successful implementation of its mission: “Behatzlacha!“
As the official logistics partner of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), Gebrüder Weiss transported the mission equipment, which is unique in the world, as well as 16 international science experiments to the test site in Israel.
More than 25 international experiments
For the current Mars Analog Mission, experiments from research institutions in Germany, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, UK, USA and Austria were selected. The six analog astronauts specially trained for the mission will, among other things, research the mental and physical health of astronauts and also test rovers and drones.
As part of an ESA project in which the OeWF is involved, procedures will be tested that can keep technical devices free of lunar dust. The special chemical and physical properties of moon dust are responsible for a multitude of health and technical difficulties during lunar expeditions. Furthermore, a 3D printer from the European Space Agency will be tested to determine whether space-grade plastics can be printed to aid scientific experiments in a remote and harsh environment, such as on Mars.
What is Analog Research for?
Again, Gernot Grömer: “We simulate the work of astronauts in combination with the use of robots in Mars-like environments. To that end, as one of five organizations worldwide, we have developed and built a space suit prototype that the analog astronauts will wear during their extravehicular missions outside the habitat. The suit simulates wearing a pressurized space suit by impeding the analog astronauts’ movements, weighs 45 kg and is equipped with medical telemetry so that the mission feels as Mars-like as possible. With our analog research, we test equipment and procedures and look for weak points so that everything may go smoothly in actual use. This method makes it easier to understand the advantages, but also the limitations of future astronautical missions on foreign planets. It also helps developing so-called “remote science operations”. These scientific processes that do not take place at the test site are designed to support the analog astronauts as efficiently as possible in researching the terrestrial Mars analog environment.“
The Austrian Space Forum’s next mission will take its crew of six analog astronauts to Israel in October 2021. This simulation of a human exploration of Mars will be hosted by the Israel Space Agency and conducted in cooperation with D-MARS and science teams from 9 countries. The crew in Israel will be supported by a Mission Support Center in Austria, mimicking the “ground segment” of an actual Mars mission, including operations teams, flight planners, remote science support and the infrastructure necessary to coordinate the complex set of as much as 16 experiments in the fields of engineering, geoscience and human factors. For more information see: https://oewf.org/portfolio/amadee-20/
About the Austrian Space Forum
The Austrian Space Forum is one of the world’s leading institutions conducting Mars analog missions, thus paving the way for the future human exploration of the Red Planet. Experts from a broad variety of disciplines as well as the spaceflight sector constitute the core of the OeWF’s continued endeavors that on a regular basis include national and international institutions from science and industry to work at the cutting edge of scientific research. On doing so the Austrian Space Forum is using its excellent contacts to opinion leaders, politics and media to further and internationally propagate Austrian top-level research. The Austrian Space Forum also contributes significantly to inspiring and educating young people in the sectors of science, technology and engineering. The OeWF offers internships to students and pupils, its experts supervise scientific papers on a regular basis. www.oewf.org
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