Nine Catalan female scientists head to US desert to simulate mission to Mars
Barcelona, Apr 12 (EFE).- A group of nine female scientists from Catalonia led by astrophysicist Mariona Badenas will head to the Utah desert in the United States to simulate a two-week mission to Mars.
The Hypatia I mission will study and investigate the living conditions on a simulated version of Mars, while aiming to make women more visible in space exploration and promote scientific vocations among girls.
“The dream of going to space has no gender,” says Badenas, who took part in projects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and set up the crew over two years ago.
Badenas highlights the gender gap in the field, where only 27% of scientists are women — a figure which drops below 20% for astronauts — adding that no woman has ever walked on the moon.
The Utah research station is ideal for experiencing what living on Mars would be like due to its geology and low humidity, biologist Carla Conejo explains.
“We will eat dehydrated food and we will have to ration our drinking water, take care of the garden and maintain hygiene. In that order,” she says.
While they will receive real-life training, Conejo says a manned mission to Mars would be a “long shot” because of the “risks involved.”
“It would be very risky to go on this mission without simulations right now, but we want to inspire future astronauts so that one day they can do it,” she says.
Scientists will be walking through the desert in diving suits carrying out studies that cannot be done in laboratories.
“We can’t take many batteries there, because of the weight, nor solar panels. So the challenge is to make batteries and with the lights and the power source available, maybe we can get some small bean sprouts to make a salad on the last day,” Neus Sabate explains.
The crew is due to head on the mission from April 16 to 29.EFE