At a time when space exploration is back in fashion and it appears that Mars may even be within reach in a matter of years, some initiatives aim to pave the way by taking some preliminary steps here on Earth.
This is the case of the Hypatia Mars Mission, that has seen an all-female crew of nine from Catalonia spending two weeks in isolation, during the month of April 2023, in an environment that simulated conditions in Mars.
The setting of this experiment has been the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), located in the desert of Utah, in the Western United States, and operated by the Mars Society, a US-based NGO dedicated to promoting Mars exploration projects.
The mission participants, which were specially selected for their academic and research credentials, have been subject to the same sorts of restrictions that a manned mission to the Red Planet would face. For example, they had limited access to water and communications with the outside world and donned spacesuits for any activities outside the research station.
In addition to conducting scientific research, the other goal of this project is to inspire young girls —and other underrepresented groups— in the pursuit of STEM-related careers.
The Hypatia Mars project is backed by a mix of public and private partners. It takes its name from the female scientist Hypatia, who lived in Alexandria in the 4th century AD.
Throughout the mission it has been possible to follow regular updates of the crew’s activities on social media.