The group, which will include one Israeli, will live in an specially designed solar-powered geodesic dome, which will simulate the kind of dwellings astronauts on mission in Mars will live in, in the not-so far future. The facility will have all life supporting technology that astronauts would need on the distant planet, and communication equipment for their contact with “Earth”.
Participants will wear spacesuits and conduct research near the dome, driving in rover vehicles designed for future Mars missions.
The announcement of Israel’s participation in the Austrian-led global space research project took place during the Israel Space Week, which comes to an end this Thursday.
The 2020 simulation will be the project’s 13th year. Last year it took place in Oman in the Arabian Peninsula, and before that in Utah, in the United States, where Roy Naor, an Israeli “astronaut” also participated in the simulation.
Alon Tenzer and Liad Yosef are the two Israelis to partake in the project — one as an active participant, and the other as a back-up, should one be required. Tenzer has a master’s degree in neurobiology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and conducts artificial intelligence research in Singapore, while Yosef, a former IDF officer, is a graduate of the International Space University in France with degrees in Math and Economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University, respectively.
Science Minister Ofir Akunis welcomed the decision to hold the project in Israel, “in the beautiful and unique area of Mitzpe Ramon.” He said the experiment will have both scientific and promotional value for Israel.
This is the second Mars simulation to be hosted by the small desert town, known in Israel for its art vibe and star-gazing scene.
Two years ago, a simulation called D-Mars took place in the area, operated by Weizmann Institute's Davidson Institute of Science Education. Six Israeli “Ramonauts” — named after the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster — lived and conducted research in Mars-like conditions.