The six-man crew of volunteer astronauts who joined the Mars500 mission to isolate themselves in a bus-sized simulator for 520 days to simulate a journey to Mars are returning back to "Earth." Technically, they never left Earth, so they're just opening the door to their bunker for the first time in over nearly a year and a half.
In February, the crew "landed" on "Mars" briefly to conduct several walks, but the entirety of the Mars500 experiment was really to learn about the effects of isolation and brain stress that such a long space trip would have on the "astronauts."
Turns out the mission was a success.
"But Patrik Sundblad, the human life sciences specialist at the ESA, says the simulation has proved a complete success. "Yes, the crew can survive the inevitable isolation that is for a mission to Mars and back," Sundblad stated. "Psychologically, we can do it."
According to Sunblad, receiving emails from friends and family on Earth in a more timely manner (they were delayed on purpose based on simulated distance from Earth) was crucial to the crew's morale. Maybe when we figure out how to build a real spaceship to bring people to the real Mars, they'll bring iPads along. That should keep their spirits up.
The simulator's door officially opens at 5 p.m. EST and can be watched live streamed on the ESA's website, with another four days of health checks on the way.
home, err, out of the door boys!