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Space

Mars mission participants walk on 'Red Planet'

RIA Novosti

16:06 14/02/2011 MISSION CONTROL (Moscow Region), February 14 (RIA Novosti) - Participants in the simulation of a manned mission to Mars completed on Monday the first of three scheduled walks on a mock-up of the surface of the Red Planet.

The Moscow Institute of Medical and Biological Problems launched the 520-day experiment on June 3 last year. The Mars-500 project simulates almost all aspects of a journey to the Red Planet, with a 250-day outward trip, a 30-day "stay" on its surface, and a 240-day return flight.

The first simulated walk on Mars was conducted by Russia's Alexander Smolevsky and Italy's Diego Urbina and was completed in an hour and a half.

As part of the first walk, the so-called marsonauts erected the national flags of Russia and China on the surface of the Red Planet, as well as the flag of the European Space Agency (ESA), and made speeches in Russian and English.

The also took "samples" of the planet's surface.

The second walk is scheduled for February 18 and will be conducted by Smolevsky and China's Wang Yue, while the third walk on the planet will be conducted by Smolevsky and Urbina on February 22.

The "spacecraft's" crew, led by 38-year-old engineer Alexei Sitev, also includes Russian surgeon Sukhrob Kamolov, 32, and Russian general practitioner Alexander Smolevsky, 33.

The other participants in the project are Italian Diego Urbina, 27, China's Wang Yue, 27, and 31-year-old Roman Charles from France.

Smolevsky, Urbina and Wang Yue landed to reconnoiter the surface and perform three exploratory walks primarily in search of water. They are also due to practice measures to be taken in emergency situations, including a sand storm and a meteor shower.

Sitev, Kamolov and Charles will monitor the operations from "orbit."

The simulated exploration of the Red Planet will last until February 23.



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