Simulation Research: A Vital Step for Human Missions to Mars 932069
The complex nature of the challenge as humans embark on exploration missions beyond Earth orbit will require that, in the early stages, simulation facilities be established at least on Earth. Suitable facilities in Low Earth Orbit and on the Moon surface would provide complementary information of critical importance for the overall design of a human mission to Mars.
A full range of simulation campaigns is required, in fact, to reach a better understanding of the complexities involved in exploration missions that will bring humans back to the Moon and then outward to Mars.
The corresponding simulation means may range from small scale environmental simulation chambers and/or computer models that will aid in the development of new materials, to full scale mock-ups of spacecraft and planetary habitats and/or orbiting infrastructures.
It is evident that a suitable simulation approach to manned planetary explorations will play a crucial role in pursuing the viability and success of a human mission to Mars.
Simulation programmes already conceived for other space missions apply only partially to human mission to Mars due to the peculiar conditions encountered in such a mission (interplanetary travel, landing on another planet, enormous distance from Earth, etc.).
Fundamental guidelines have to be established for the implementation of a coherent and effective simulation programme, where both ground-based and space-based facilities are optimally integrated and complementary.
The basic performance requirements of the humans involved are defined in the light of the primary objectives of a manned Mars mission, which may range from an Apollo-type “planting the flag” to the establishment of a permanent human presence on the planet.
This set of requirements deals with the professional skills of the Mars mission crew as well as their physiological and psychological condition.
These requirements are obtained by suitable selection and training of the crew, and they are maintained during the mission by a correct programme of in-flight countermeasures.
Taking into account the propulsion technology envisaged, the duration of a round trip to Mars will vary between a few weeks and two years.
This paper describes how a suitable simulation campaign will contribute to the definition of the required countermeasures with respect to the expected duration of the flight. This will allow to be traded countermeasure payload and astronaut time against effort in technological development of propulsion systems.