2011 was marked by Mars 500, a record-breaking simulated mission to Mars.
For 17 months six volunteers took part in the first full-length, high-fidelity simulation of a human mission to our neighbouring planet. The international crew, two Europeans, three Russains and a Chinese, were isolated in a spacecraft mock-up located a the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. They were faithfully following the phases of a real mission: a long flight to Mars, insertion into orbit around the planet, landing, surface exploration, return to orbit, a monotonous return trip and arrival at Earth.
During the flight, the crew performed more than 100 experiments, all linked to the problems of long-duration missions in deep space.
This story recalls this unique experience which worked even better than expected.
More backgroud information can be found on: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars500/index.html