After nearly eight months’ journey in a small, enclosed craft, the crew of the Mars500 mission is nearing the turning point of its voyage—arrival and disembarking at the Red Planet. They will spend 10 days there, exploring the surface in a series of excursions, before returning to their craft and beginning the lengthy trip home.
At no point in any of this exploration, however, will the six-member Mars500 crew actually leave the surface of Earth. The entire mission is a simulation, housed in a series of capsules at Russia’s Institute for Biomedical Problems in association with the European Space Agency. But the isolation and cramped confinement of the mission are real, even if the journey itself is not.