NASA is looking for methods to make a visit to the International Space Station slightly more like a voyage to Mars.
In fact, nothing can ever actually replicate the experience of a Mars mission before people embark on that journey for real. However, NASA can put together by mimicking as many various aspects of the journey as possible. So the agency is strategizing methods the space station can host such practice sessions — without interfering with the orbiting lab’s different priorities.
“My job is to think about what a Mars mission would seem like: Where could we go, what could we do, and how could we do it?” Michelle Rucker, an engineer at NASA, stated during a panel held at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington last month. “Going to Mars can be difficult, however luckily, we do not have to begin from scratch, as a result of we have already constructed these different platforms that we are able to use to follow a few of the operations that we might use on a human Mars mission.”
Spaceflight professionals call these practice scenarios analog missions. The most striking Mars-analog missions thus far are people who isolate crew members on Earth, maybe in a unique destination. However, these analogs cannot replicate particular traits of spaceflight, and that is why NASA determined to investigate ways that the company might explicitly use the International Space Station as an analog for Mars missions.
“Each analog has some benefits, and each analog has some disadvantages,” Julie Robinson, chief scientist of NASA’s International Space Station Program, informed Space.com. “It is worth thinking about what does [the space station] match and not match across all of the different hazards of human spaceflight.”
So NASA requested scientists, engineers, and astronauts to think about how they could use time on the space station to better put together for the long journey to Mars.