Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

AMADEE-20 is a 28-day Mars analogue simulation that takes place in the Negev desert and starts tomorrow, and will be administered by the Austrian Space Forum and the Israel Space Agency

Yafit Ovadia 12:2510.10.21

When it comes to space, the sky is not the limit. And when it comes to Israel, space exploration does not end with the Moon. For the first time, the Israeli space agency, in collaboration with the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), will conduct an integrated Mars analogue field mission in a protected dome – at Israeli research facility D -MARS – located in the Negev desert in Israel. Six-man crews will enter the dome tomorrow morning for the 21-day mission, which will be carried out in Mars terrestrial analogue. Using the specifically developed Mars suit prototypes of the Austrian Space Forum, the analogous astronauts will perform more than 20 experiments in biology, medicine, psychology, geology and engineering. The study involves 200 researchers from 25 different countries.

The OeWF Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, Austria, will monitor the mission and liaise with the scientific institutions and researchers participating in AMADEE-20. This marks the agency’s 13th Mars mission to Mars, which it hopes will contribute to future human and robot exploration of Mars.

Six-person analog astronaut crew.  Photo: Florian Voggeneder / OeWF Six-person analog astronaut crew. Photo: Florian Voggeneder / OeWF

The test site is located in the Negev desert in southern Israel near the Ramon crater. Although it is not an impact crater, rather a rare form of an erosion structure, it bears a great resemblance to different Martian surface properties and a range of terrain types similar to Mars exploration. The test site offers a wide range of sand and rocky surfaces, and the site bears a marked resemblance to the Vallis Marineris structure on Mars. The selected analog astronauts are highly qualified experts trained by the Austrian Space Forum and will be led by Commander and Space Engineer João Lousada from Portugal, an experienced analog astronaut who has already participated in two previous Mars analogue missions in Austria (2015 ) and Oman (2018).

The Austrian Space Forum selected five other experts from an international pool of 13 certified analogue candidates, including Iñigo Muñoz-Elorza (Spain), Anika Mehlis (Germany), Alon Tenzer (Israel), Thomas Wijnen (Netherlands) and Robert Wild (Austria).

Part of the equipment that will be taken to the dome.  Photo: Florian Voggeneder / OeWF Part of the equipment that will be taken to the dome. Photo: Florian Voggeneder / OeWF

Of the many trials that will be tested during the remote isolation mission in the dome, Israeli startup Stemrad’s anti-radiation vest will also be tested. The stem row vest is designed to protect the bone marrow and other sensitive organs from cosmic radiation. The experiment aims to protect astronauts on extraterrestrial surfaces whose gravity is less than Earth – whether it is the Moon or Mars. Stemrad hopes to get important answers to questions such as weight, comfort and ergonomics that astronauts wear in the West while performing daily activities and any recommendation for future improvements.

Avi Blasberger, outgoing Director General of ISA, noted that “our collaboration with the Austrian Space Forum and host of AMADEE-20 in Israel is in line with our policy of supporting science, being part of the international effort for human exploration and further our outreach and educational program. We are proud to be a part of it and will invest all necessary efforts to ensure its success. ”

“Israel Space Agency is a strong and reliable partner for our next Mars analog mission. With this mission, we will increase the credibility of our Mars mission simulations even more. During the four-week mission, our six analog astronauts will live and work in a habitat provided by D-Mars and specially built for AMADEE-20. The analogue astronauts of the Austrian Space Forum will conduct more than 20 experiments in isolation to further facilitate the understanding of the benefits and limitations of future human planetary missions. This will be the largest and most complex Mars mission simulation in 2021, ”noted Gernot Grömer, Director of the Austrian Space Forum. “The purpose of simulating a Mars mission on Earth is to prepare for future crew missions on the red planet. OeWF is one of only five research groups worldwide that have developed a prototype spacecraft that the analog astronauts will wear during their mission. ”

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