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Video: Astronauts speak ahead of Oman Mars mission
January 25, 2018 | 2:58 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan, [email protected]
 
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Muscat: Astronauts from the Austrian Space Forum are looking forward to their month-long Mars simulation mission in Oman.

Titled AMADEE-18, the mission, which beings on February 5, will see scientists and researchers from the OeWF (short for Oesterreiches Weltraum Forum, the official title of the organisation) and other universities conduct a series of experiments in the desert near the town of Marmul in the Dhofar region, which has a landscape that is very similar to that of the Red Planet.



“With an exquisite array of over a dozen experiments, AMADEE-18 will provide an unprecedented level of scientific return for the community,” said Kartik Kumar, Analogue Astronaut, Austrian Space Forum. “Being in Oman gives us the opportunity to test some of the key workflows that will make a journey to Mars a success, and ultimately, this brings us one step closer to the most important endeavour of our generation: setting foot on the Red Planet.”



Key experiments will include the testing of the OeWF’s Aouda spacesuit, test drives of rovers on Mars, fatigue and energy monitoring tests, and a trial run of their mobile greenhouse that will be used to grow food for astronauts in space.



“At AMADEE-18, we will be performing a record number of scientific experiments, and these range from astrobiology to geology, so we will be testing all the experiments that we will run on Mars, and it’s really exciting to be included in the amount of scientific experiments we will perform on every mission for the Austrian Space Forum,” said Joao Lousada, another astronaut at the OeWF.

“With every mission at the Austrian Space Forum, we see the complexity grow more and more,” he added. “With AMADEE-18, we will be going to Oman where we will structures similar to that which we find on Mars, so it’s really interesting from a geological point of view that we will be doing this high-fidelity mission in Oman. With the amount of experiments, and having such a fidelity in going to the Omani desert, we are definitely getting closer to what it’ll be like on Mars, and slowly paving the steps to one day land a man on Mars.”

Equipment that will be used by the OeWF has already left for Oman, and the astronauts who will be travelling to the Sultanate are currently undergoing training at the Austrian Space Forum HQ in Innsbruck.

“As a researcher, I am very happy to be part of the AMADEE-18 mission, where we are going to collect valuable data to explore new worlds,” said Dr Carmen Kohler. “The realistic Martian environment will help us maintain scientific integrity, and high-fidelity scientific research will bring us closer to mars, and that is where we want to go.”



“During the mission at AMADEE-18, we will be performing almost 20 experiments that have been peer-reviewed before, so the quality of the science that we will be taking home back from Oman will be great,” added Inigo Munoz Elorza, another astronaut. “We will be living in the middle of the desert in Oman for four weeks, with three of them being in isolation, with no signs of civilisation close to us, and even the features of the desert are pretty much alike, so the fidelity of really being on Mars during these four weeks will be really high during AMADEE-18.

“If we consider the location, and the amount of quality science that we will be doing, this is bringing us one step closer to Mars,” he added. “February will be the closest we can experience to doing science on Mars, which will be the AMADEE-18 mission in Oman.”

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