Jul
14
2007

Your chance to go to Mars. Without actually going to Mars.

The imaginauts take some imaginary air: Forced from the module by a bad smell, their patience is truly being tested.    (Image by frogmusuem2 on Flickr)
The imaginauts take some imaginary air: Forced from the module by a bad smell, their patience is truly being tested. (Image by frogmusuem2 on Flickr)
Russian scientists are well underway with 4th dimension mobility research, and expect to have a working time machine within the year. The time travelers, or “chrononauts,” will enter a sealed chamber, and then, supposedly, emerge 520 days in the future. Scientists do not believe, however, that the travelers will be able to return to their “home time” and so will be making a great sacrifice in the name of scientific progress.

The process for moving these people 520 days through time will take approximately 520 days. I have a bathtub that functions on very much the same principals, although it is only capable of moving me about half an hour into the future (or slightly further, if I don’t mind getting a little pruney). Like the Russian device, the bathtub does not allow for one to move backwards again through time, although that lost half hour is not always one I’d want back.

Some in the scientific community retain doubts on the validity of the time travel process. They claim that it is not so much “time travel” as it is “Big Brother, but without cameras.”

The purpose of the research, according to the Russian scientists and the European Space Agency (ESA), is not to see the future, but, oddly enough, to study the effects of a simulated journey to Mars on astronauts.

The ESA and NASA hope to send a manned spacecraft to Mars sometime in the next several decades. The thing is, a trip to Mars would be kind of like a family road trip that lasted a year and a half – 250 days to get there, 240 days to get back, and a month in between at Yellowstone (or Mars). With no stops to stretch your legs. Scientists want to know what happens once the sing-alongs stop and the chex mix runs out. I’m guessing something like “Lord of the Flies,” or “Leprechaun 4: Leprechaun in Space.” But I’m no scientist.

Volunteers from all over Russia and Europe have been fighting for the chance to be placed in a 550 cubic meter pod with five strangers for 520 days straight. With the exceptions of weightlessness and exposure to radiation, all aspects of the interplanetary trip will be simulated. The module will not be opened for anything outside of a major emergency, and there will be a twenty-minute communication delay between Earth and the “space ship.” Also, the three volunteers who will be landing on Mars (as it were) will have to spend a month in a separate chamber, “lying on their backs with their heads lower than their feet,” to simulate the effects of zero gravity. Prospective volunteers expect this portion of the experiment to be “super crappy.”

Applicants should be “Healthy and professional… and intellectually tough.” So I’m out, but anyone else who’s interested in a trip to Mars, with no Mars, should get a hold of the ESA.

The Guardian’s article on the project.

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