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Chinese volunteers to hold 180-day isolation study for Mars mission

(People's Daily Online)    16:57, January 21, 2016
Chinese volunteers to hold 180-day isolation study for Mars mission
Stage photo of The Martian. (Photo/File)

Four Chinese volunteers are going to start their 180 days together in a simulated space capsule after Spring Festival. The simulated capsule is made out of six giant boxes, and the simulation will take place in Shenzhen, southeast China's Guangdong province.

The capsule was designed to simulate a controlled ecological life support system and was constructed in the Southern Research Institute of Space Technology, located in Shenzhen’s International Low Carbon City on Jan. 20, 2016.

Four volunteers (not astronauts), including three men and a woman, will enter into the confined capsule after Spring Festival. They will experience 180 days of isolated life together and conduct more than 20 high-level experiments, including simulation of a round-trip journey to Mars, and the establishment of a base station on Mars and the moon.

A research fellow with the Southern Research Institute of Space Technology explained in detail the "internal secrets" of the simulated space capsule. The six giant boxes feature a low pressure tank, two plant tanks, a resources tank, a life support cabin and a crew cabin. The crew cabin is 8.2 meters, or three stories high, he said, and the minimum height of all the boxes is 3.6 meters. There will be no simulation of weightlessness this time.

Vegetables, fruits, staple crops and oil plants are cultivated in the plant tank, where the cultivation volume is 674 cubic meters, so as to ensure production capacity for food, oxygen and water supplies for six people.

In the resources tank, there are recycling and purification systems to deal with waste, including human feces and urine, plant debris, waste water and exhaust gas. In the life support area, where food is stored and processed, there is a water supply system and air purification system.

The 180 cubic meters of the crew cabin are divided into nine parts, including a sleeping area, working and reading areas, cafeteria, gym and medical monitoring area. They are going to start the experiment after Spring Festival, but the specific time remains unknown. China will become the third country, after the US and Russia, to do such large-scale experiment. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Gao Yinan,Bianji)

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