Researchers wearing 50 kilo spacesuits simulate a mission to Mars on the Kaunertal glacier valley that resembles the conditions of the Red Planet. Jillian Kitchener reports.
These researchers are suiting up for a mission, similar to Mars ... but instead, they're glacier-bound in Austria. Their test mission, Friday, was designed to replicate the situations astronauts might face on a real voyage to the Red Planet. And they're not getting a break with the 50 kilo spacesuits either. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESEARCHER, INIGO MUNOZ ELORZA, SAYING: "...My main goal is to feel as close as possible to what a real astronaut will feel in the future, on Mars or on other bodies. And from the mission perspective it is to fulfill as many objectives and experiments as possible. So I will try my best." Scientists believe water, once on Mars, has now turned into a similar form of glacier with ice beneath a surface of rock or sand. And so the simulation here has gone full-speed ahead. The researchers are only able to communicate with "mission control" via radio. And they're forced to wait twenty minutes for a reply. Something the head of Austria's space forum says replicates the time delay between Earth and Mars. Experts say it may take another 20 to 30 years before a human can actually wander upon Mars. But test-missions like this aim to highlight the limitations astronauts may find in future expeditions.