I’m surprised this didn’t make it into Steve’s Six in the Morning this morning. After 520 days in an isolation chamber in Moscow to simulate the mental stress of enforced confinement that the crew on the first manned  mission to Mars (pictured) is going to have to endure, six human guinea pigs representing the European Space Agency — three Russian men, a Frenchman, an Italian-Columbian, and a Chinese man– emerged from the chamber.

Here’s a link to the Guardian’s article.   

It talks about them even doing a simulated Mars landing and EVA, and while it’s not mentioned in the linked article, I read elsewhere that an earlier experiment in 2000 had ended prematurely after two of the crew went UFC on each other and a third tried to force himself sexually on a female crew member.

It’s not that these guys are in line to make the first trip to Mars. That likely won’t happen until 2030 or so. And while their achievement is to be lauded, it’s only one test humanity’s going to have to pass to reach Mars. The major one is prolonged weightlessness, which really wreaks havoc on our skeletal and muscle systems. Any radiation’s a concern too.