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New Biosatellite To Study Life In Martian Gravity

The Translife Mars Gravity Biosatellite, as the mission will be called, will fly the mice aboard a spinning spacecraft that generates artificial gravity identical to that on the surface of Mars. The satellite is scheduled to launch in mid-2005, orbit for about 50 days, and then return the crew safely to Earth. The team is considering a number of launch vehicle options.
Los Angeles - Apr 22, 2002
The Mars Society has announced a landmark private space mission that willhelp researchers understand the long-term effects of living on Mars. MIT(Cambridge, MA), the University of Washington (Seattle, WA), and the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) are leading the project.

Mission highlights include:

  • The first privately developed biosatellite
  • The first mammalian births in space
  • The first in-depth study of mammals in a partial-gravity environment
  • The first student-led launch and recovery of a spacecraft

The privately funded, pioneering mission will study the effects of prolonged exposure to Martian gravity on mammals, a vital step on the road to human exploration of Mars. Student teams at three leading universities will design, construct, and launch a satellite with a payload of mice on board.

The mice will experience Martian gravity--- 3/8 that of Earth. While in space, some will give birth to a second generation, who will grow and develop entirely in this new environment.

After nearly two months, the craft will return to Earth, where teams of scientists will study the crew and their offspring to obtain the first clues about life and development in reduced gravity.

The Translife Mars Gravity Biosatellite, as the mission will be called, will fly the mice aboard a spinning spacecraft that generates artificial gravity identical to that on the surface of Mars. The satellite is scheduled to launch in mid-2005, orbit for about 50 days, and then return the crew safely to Earth. The team is considering a number of launch vehicle options.

The mission will conduct basic scientific research necessary before humans can safely explore Mars. Astronauts living in space stations have encountered serious health problems, such as bone loss, due to the weightless environment. The first crew on Mars could experience similar effects, and scientists do not yet know whether Martian gravity is sufficient to prevent these long-term health hazards.

The mission's crew of mice will provide the first answers to this important question, and the equally important question of whether higher life from Earth will ever be able to settle Mars. During the seven-week mission, their offspring will grow from birth to nearly adulthood in Martian gravity. At the end of the flight, the satellite will re-enter the atmosphere, bringing the original crew and their progeny safely back to Earth for scientific study.

Three universities will collaborate to develop this complex spacecraft: MIT will manage scientific objectives and the mission payload; the University of Washington will design the carrier spacecraft; and the University of Queensland (Australia) will devise the re-entry and recovery systems.

The Mars Gravity Biosatellite is expected to cost nearly $10 million.

The students are seeking financial and in-kind support from both public and private sectors to complete the project. An anonymous donor has pledged to match all contributions at 50%.

The Mars Society is a private organization that works toward the exploration and settlement of our neighboring planet. It furthers these goals through public outreach to instill the vision of pioneering Mars, supporting aggressive government Mars exploration programs, and conducting exploratory research on a private basis.

Before we can explore and settle the planet Mars, we must determine whether mammals can live, function, reproduce, and develop normally in its weak gravity field. This mission's groundbreaking research will provide the first insight into humans' ability to one day travel beyond the Earth and inhabit new worlds.

A complete report on the Translife Mission will be presented at the 5th International Mars Society Convention, August 8-11, University of colorado at Boulder.

Related Links
Translife Mars at MIT
Translife Mars at Mars Society
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Translife Mission Experiment Sees Mice Born at 25 RPM
Lakewood - Oct. 15, 2001
It is with great pleasure that the Mars Society announces that Minnie, the female participant in the Mars Society's Translife Mission Coriolis force experiment, has given birth of a litter of approximately 6 healthy baby mice. The birth apparently took place over the weekend, with the youngsters first observed on the morning of October 15, 2001.


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