Mars LARP!

…because that’s basically what the Mars 500 project is, essentially.

Essentially, this is more about psychology then it is about physics or engineering. And in the BBC article, one of the researchers pretty much admits this:

    “We expect Mars500 to have Earth applications, in understanding group dynamics connected to isolation and loneliness, for example,” she [Dr Berna van Baarsen] said.

I also have to admit that I wonder about the realism of the exercise. For instance, the psychology for the crew will be completely different from a real Mars mission, for one simple reason: they know they’re actually sat in a warehouse in Moscow. If anything really bad did happen, it’s just a matter of opening a door, which obviously wouldn’t be possible on a real trip.

Also, there’s the direction-less aspect of all this. A real crew on a real ship have a real destination, and that’s going to change the behaviour. My suspicion is that on an actual mission, the crew will cope a lot better with any problems, simply because there’s a clear payoff at the end (they get to be the first human beings on another planet). Whereas, that is entirely lacking here. This crew’s payoff will presumably be that they get let out.

So yes, Mars 500 is an interesting excercise. But I’m not sure if it really takes us any closer to going to Mars.

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