June 3, 2010 was a monumental beginning of an important program where six future cosmonauts from Italy, France, China and Russia in front of a plethora of cameras and newsmen in Moscow walked into a confined space for the next 500 days, maybe even 520 days, until November 2011.  The appearance of six happy space travelers marks the beginning of an experiment of living in very close quarters and spending many days together in a series of interconnected metal canisters that comprise the model of a one-way space probe to Mars. The complete round trip simulation will cover the amount of days it will take to travel to Mars and back. The real mission to Mars is already tentatively planned for 2030.
Life during interplanetary space travel is not only stressful, but requires a pre-testing environment to work out the scientific, medical and sociological challenges of living in a confined “space environment”.
It is hoped that the Mars500 program will bring us one step closer to our planetary neighbor and  help open the door to the past and the future in providing answers to the time when Mars had an atmosphere like Earth, with an abundance of water. This has also been recently confirmed by the research of Dr. Gaetano Di Achille and Professor Brian Hynek from the University of Colorado, Boulder as reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.  The study reveals a vast ocean once existed on Mars 3.5 billion years ago.  They identified 52 delta regions fed by numerous river-like systems studied over numerous valley networks. They now claim that the ocean covered around 36% of the planet and contained 30 million cubic miles of water.


picture credit NASA: Greg Shirah

Water, of course, is a key ingredient for life and so Mars is more likely to house some forms of life.  Even  Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man on the moon (1969)  is pushing to go to Mars and Russian researchers are fascinated with a strange monolith and other peculiar anomalies connected with the moon of Mars called Phobos.
The Russian space agency also wants to return to Mars, in part, to complete the 1989 Phobos mission to one of the moons of Mars. This original mission, not significantly mentioned in the press, failed which resulted in the loss of a one billion US dollar probe called “Phobus 2” which housed a multitude of experiments.  Most interesting were the final images recorded by the Russian cameras from the “Phobos 2” probe which made it to the moon of Mars but then disappeared under the mysterious circumstances of an elongated shadow that seemed to be hovering nearby the probe.  ( In stories released on Televisa (Mexico City) in 1989 by Dr. J.J. Hurtak and noted television journalist, Jaime Maussen, film footage showing pictures of unusual phenomena prior to the disappearance of the Soviet probe was discussed with Russian experts who did not rule out the possibility of a real extraterrestrial interception that nullified the mission that was also being monitored by the U.S. Deep Space Tracking Program at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California.
For More information on the Mars500 see:  (Russian) (English)