MEXICO CITY – A group of Mexicans will experience a hostile Mars-like environment during a special mission to the desert in the western US state of Utah, the National Science and Technology Council (Conacyt) reported on Tuesday.
From Dec. 15-30, the Exploration Mission 1 (MEx-1) team will face simulated challenges like those that astronauts will face on Mars and will carry out tasks like those to be undertaken on a real mission, including isolating and collecting samples of the Martian surface.
The mission will be No. 201 in the series of missions being coordinated by the Mars Society, an organization seeking to raise awareness of the benefits of exploring the Red Planet.
It will also be the first team composed exclusively of Mexicans.
MEx-1 commander Tania Robles said that she is “fascinated to continue exploring and finding new roads,” since that is an intrinsic characteristic of human beings.
She said, however, that the team will not be able to experience the full range of challenges astronauts would encounter on Mars, since simulating the radiation and lower gravity there pose significant challenges for Earth-bound trainees.
Robles’ team will include six students and professionals who will travel to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, where they will be supported by another team that will remain in Mexico but will communicate with them.
This first and only Mexican MDRS mission has the goal of attracting Mexican talent and getting kids and young people excited about getting involved in scientific, humanistic and social activities linked to space exploration.
During their stay in Utah, the team will have to prepare algorithms for controlling exploratory vehicles that will help them analyze the terrain and collect solid samples or rocks and soil.
The team will also undergo cognitive analysis to determine the effects on them of isolation, stress and physical and mental fatigue.