Going stir-crazy on Mars

How would you like to live in a 26-foot capsule with five other people? That might be fun for a couple of days, but what if you couldn't leave for two whole years? Kavya Manyapu, an aerospace engineer and aspiring astronaut, who will spend two weeks in the Utah desert in a Mars-style research station, testing the conditions that researchers might find during a real stay on Mars. Manyapu will study bone loss and help design new, more convenient space suits for trips outside of the station. Read the full story here
This is not a Mars research station: It is in fact a can of sardines.  But I can see how you might confuse the two.
This is not a Mars research station: It is in fact a can of sardines. But I can see how you might confuse the two.Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Those two weeks are just an experiment to see how the team members get along under highly controlled conditions in such a small space. Of course, during a real Mars mission, it would take several months just to get there, and the total mission would be a couple of years.

Now, some people could put up with just about anything for two weeks. Others of us get cranky after just a few hours cooped up in the car. But it gets me thinking: How would I do in those conditions for two whole years? Think about it:

--You can't go outside without a space suit (and presumably not at all during the flight itself), so no biking, walks, or sports.

--You can't get more than 26 feet away from anyone, no matter how smelly everyone gets when you don't get to shower every day.

--Your internet and phone time would be limited if you got it at all, since everyone would be sharing a very expensive connection.

--You can't call the plumber or the electrician if anything breaks.

--Space would be limited, so you can't bring stacks of books and games.

I'm thinking that one of those e-readers might be perfect, loaded up with books beforehand. Or perhaps the crew could pass the time playing charades or Twenty Questions. Got any other ideas?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

We've posted on Buzz before about a group of Russian volunteers who are actually simulating the full 520-day round trip to Mars. (Here's one of the posts, which should contain a link to the original story.) That experiment was more for the psychological aspects of the trip, I think. Sounds like Manyapu's looking more into physiological stuff.

I wonder how those cosmonots are doing? (Get it?) One of those dudes has to have a blog or a webcam, but I'm too lazy to find it. Also ... probably in Russian.

How to pass the time? Wrestling, obviously. Or any sort of fighting. Holmesian indoor pistol practice? Chili cook-offs? Humming? Or have you ever whipped a superball at the wall in a small room? Think of what that would be like in space! It'd keep them occupied for the full two years!

posted on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 9:38am

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