the main problem faced by Mars astronauts

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the main problem faced by Mars astronauts

Post by falkor » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:43 pm

Sleep deprivation, we are told, is the latest show-stopper when it comes to a manned Mars mission. As the chances of such a mission recede ever further into the world of fantasy, results from the Mars 500 project, where six scientists spent 17 months locked in a steel tank in Moscow to 'simulate' a real mission to the Red Planet, suggest that the prolonged voyage through space will generate dangerous, mission threatening levels of sleep deprivation.
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Well, this may, or may not be true. My view is that when it comes to generating useful data as to what a Mars mission will be like, Mars500 was not worth a hill of beans. Certainly, on a scale of things I would worry about if setting off to Mars, insomnia would come in at about number 300. There are many, many other things that will pose far more risk to our putative adventurers.
Catastrophic mechanical failure of their spacecraft must come in at number one. It would only take one weld to burst, one electrical system to spark a major fire, one major anomaly discovered on descent to the Martian surface and it's game over. At a distance of 100 million miles-plus, there will be no rescue missions, no spare parts, no backups. Of the seven Apollos aimed at the lunar surface, six worked, one did not, and one (Apollo 11) only got down by the skin of its teeth (i.e. Neil Armstrong's almost surreal skills as a pilot). The Apollo 13 team only got home with a lot of luck (and a great deal of ingenuity). If a failure like this happened half way to Mars, rather than the Moon, they'd all be dead.

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