To prepare humans for Mars, two explorers travel 3,600 km to Antarctica

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Pulling a 200-kilogram sled, traveling on foot a vast part of a 3,600 km kitesurfing ride, explorers Justin Packshaw and Jamie Facer put their body and mind to the extreme to collect data for the future. The future is an interplanetary mission to Mars and the Moon.

The two explorers are in Antarctica walking on foot, pushing their physical and mental limits to the brink as temperatures drop to -55 degrees Celsius to help scientists better understand how the body responds to extremes and take unique action of their glacial environment.

The two embarked on their 80-day journey across the cold and desolate continent from the Novolazarevskaya research station over a month ago as part of the “Chasing the Light” expedition to cross Antarctica from coast to coast. ‘ According to the European Space Agency, the two are collecting data that will give scientists new insight into environmental conditions in mid-Antarctica.

Temperature and wind readings will provide measurements of the snow covering the ice cap.

The digital map shows the team’s position on December 15, 2021 after traveling 1083 km since the start of the expedition on November 12 from the Novolazarevskaya ‘Novo’ research station. (Photo: ESA)

The two scientific explorers are working with NASA and ESA to monitor developments underway in Antarctica as climate change triggers a strong melt. The measure relates to:

* Radiation levels
* Wind speed / direction at surface level
* Temperature gradients from surface level
* Ice conditions when crossing the continent

“Much like the extreme conditions found on the planets in our solar system, Antarctica has an austere environment which is useful for a range of human and biological research, ranging from isolation, microbial investigations, immunology and much more. more. Justin and Jamie’s mission will allow scientists to observe a rare scientific history of human adaptability, which will ultimately aid in the ongoing mapping of genomic, physiological, psychological and environmental data models of space-centric exploration. man, ”the expedition’s website says.

As part of the trip, NASA is testing explorers’ ability to estimate distance visually, which can often be unreliable when humans are placed in a foreign environment. Meanwhile, studying individuals pushing their physical and mental limits will help researchers around the world use cutting-edge technology and a personalized health profile to monitor training, expedition, and recovery with scientific detail. unprecedented.

Justin Packshaw is a former British Army officer who represented his country in sailing, competing in the Whitbread Round the World Race. A thrill-seeker, he has led several trips to the North and South Poles as well as to the summit of Everest. Meanwhile, Jamie Facer Childs is the world’s first frozen embryonic twin and something of a medical miracle. In 2009, he was the youngest to paddle across the Indian Ocean. In 2017, he was part of the first British team to cross Antarctica entirely on foot.

The team is also working with NASA and Stanford University to use the expedition for human and biological research. This involves taking measurements of their own bodies to study, for example, isolation, microbiology, and immunology, ultimately contributing to studies of the future exploration of human space.

According to ESA, so far the two explorers have withstood winds of 150 km / h. “The terrain was uneven, super icy and difficult and yet they just shot us carelessly! We, on the other hand, were shocked! All that aside, we are in good shape and will continue to play the cards that are dealt to us. A royal flush would be nice, ”said Justin.


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