257 Days Later, Astronauts 'Land' on Mars

No one's quit after months in the pod
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2011 10:58 AM CST

A team of researchers has finally arrived on Mars after a 257-day flight—none of which was real. Six men from across the globe spent 257 days locked in a 12-by-20-foot steel capsule in Moscow, simulating the experience of traveling to the planet, the Daily Mail reports. They’ll now spend 2 days exploring the simulated surface of Mars before “returning” home to conclude their 520-day "Mars 500" mission, conducted by agencies in Moscow, Europe, and China.

The "spacecraft," which is housed in a parking lot next to an apartment building, has six sleeping pods, a kitchen, living room, toilet, greenhouse, and working area. Behavioral analysts have observed the crew, which includes three Russians, an Italian-Colombian, a Chinese man, and a Frenchman, throughout their journey, intended to simulate the stresses of a real mission to Mars. On this trip, however, there’s gravity, and the men are allowed to leave if they wish—though none have. (Click to see photos of an avalanche on Mars.)

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