AMADEE-20: Israel-based Mars analog mission ends after 3 weeks

The three-week Mars analog mission in Mitzpe Ramon ended Sunday when the six analog astronauts left their AMADEE-20 habitat for the first time without spaceship simulators.

The mission, AMADEE-20, was the latest Mars analogue mission launched by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) held in collaboration with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and the D-MARS habitat.

The mission focused on getting the analog astronauts into character and simulating the experience of being on the red planet. The six analog astronauts – from Portugal, Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain – were completely isolated to simulate being in such a habitat on Mars and remained in contact with a mission control group in Austria.

The habitat had an airlock, and the analog astronauts were required to wear spacesuits when they left it for any experiment, just as they were to do on Mars.

“If you feel the Martian atmosphere on Mars, you’re probably dead,” said Sophie Gruber of the AMADEE-20 leadership team as the mission began. “We do not want to simulate the atmosphere, because exposure to it would not happen without dying and is [therefore] irrelevant.”

Many experiments were performed during the mission, such as simulating the psychological experience of being isolated in this habitat.

“We have had a mission that combines isolation and the psychological burden it entails with highly advanced technologies on the (virtual learning environments) for space travel,” the mission’s deputy commander Iñigo Muñoz-Elorza told the Spanish-language news agency. Agencia EFE after leaving the habitat.

“Our spacecraft simulator is one of the most advanced for analog missions, and we’ve also received support from several rovers and drones to fly around and be able to make a progressive map of the zone around the habitat, where we then made some science.”

The mission’s experiments also focused on testing the equipment to see what could happen in an actual mission to Mars.

“This kind of mission is important because it allows us to test the equipment, the experiments, and the procedures that we will use one day on Mars, to find out in advance here on Earth all the problems, all the things that that could go wrong before sending our missions to Mars, ”Mission Chief Joao Lousada told EFE.

But many other experiments were focused on being able to search for life on Mars.

This has been a major focus of recent missions to the Red Planet, so-called because of the iron oxide found on its surface. In fact, the search for life is among the primary goals of NASA’s newly launched Perseverance rover and Ingenuity Mars helicopter.

At first glance, this may seem confusing, for although the existence of signs of life on Mars is doubtful, its presence in the Ramon crater has never been in doubt. But that is precisely the reason why this page was chosen.

“We have dedicated an exploration cascade that fixes the sequence of the experiment and the data flow to ensure that if we look at that particular place in the desert, we can make sure we do not miss anything,” Gruber had said. “We start with satellite television; then we send drones and rovers and finally our astronauts.

“We make sure that we have researched it so well that we know everything about it. Using a site like the Ramon Crater, which is as well studied as our analogue, we can see how well our strategy worked by comparing our data with the data already known. “

The final week of the mission focused on experiments that needed more data, such as the MEROP experiment, which saw analog astronauts control Mercator Rover from habitat, as well as remote exploration missions conducted by Exra-Vehicular Activities (EVA).

The participating agencies and analog astronauts celebrated the end of the mission on social media.

The OeWF Mission Support Center shared a video of them on Twitter and signed up after the mission ended.

The analog astronauts’ exit from their habitat was shared online by ISA with the headline “mission accomplished!”

But while the simulation itself is over, the scientific work has just begun as experts analyze and interpret the data collected from the experiment and then publish the results.

The first results of the mission will be presented at the AMADEE-20 Science Workshop scheduled for next spring.

“It was again an incredibly inspiring experience to manage such a Mars simulation with all the volunteer, motivated, well-prepared, trained and dedicated team members,” the OeWF said in a statement. “When people are passionate about something, they make a hell of a difference with their passion!”

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