Mars expedition lands in Russia

Mars expedition lands in Russia

Exploring space on Planet Earth

Where do you think this is? Can you guess?

It's the surface of Moscow!

The Mars500 mission has landed. Mars500 was set up to investigate what it would be like for people to travel to Mars. How will the human mind and body cope on a long spaceflight?

We don't have the expertise to fly to Mars yet, so the European Space Agency (ESA) created the next best thing - they sealed six astronauts in a capsule for 520 days.

Mars500 crew_P1030441

Mars500 crew (c) ESA

ESA wanted to make the mission as realistic as possible. The astronauts have only been able to contact the outside world since 'take off' by emails delayed by twenty minutes - this mimics the real delay that astronauts would experience - or through mission control. Even their food and water has been carefully managed - there are no food deliveries in space! The astronauts spend most of their time completing experiments, which test their mental and physical states.

Watch astronaut Diego Urbina take you on a tour across around the tiny Mars500 capsule:

On 14 Feb 2011 the mission finally 'landed' on Mars. Three of the astronauts moved to a tiny capsule that 'separated' from the mothership and then touched down on the 'surface of Mars'.

Two of the astronauts have walked on the surface of Mars - actually a 10 metre by 6 metre area set up to resemble Mars. They conducted scientific experiments with the help of a robot. When the astronauts rejoin the main capsule they will undergo three days quarantine before they rejoin their colleagues and journey back to Earth. This journey will take another eight months!

Astronauts on the surface of Mars_Mars500 mission_IMG_1450

Mars500 astronauts on the 'surface of Mars' Image (c) ESA / IPMB

A real mission to Mars is still many years away and it's a huge challenge. How would the astronauts cope on such a long journey? How will scientists protect the astronauts from the increased radiation that they will encounter out there?

The six astronauts who are involved in the Mars500 programme are very impressive. Could you cope with 520 days in a sealed capsule?

Main image: ESA / IPMB

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