This month, 25 countries are participating in a simulated Mars mission in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. There, in the barren Dhofar Desert, temperatures can top 51 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit), making it a pretty inhospitable spot for humans—just like Mars. The mission, AMADEE-18 (PDF press kit), lasts four weeks, during which five astronauts will live in inflatable habitats and conduct experiments ranging from growing produce to operating robotic field rovers.
I know about planetary analog missions in general, but mostly just the NASA ones, such as HERA, NEEMO, and Desert RATS. AMADEE is a project of the Austrian Space Forum, a group that links up various corners of Austria's space industry.
I heard about AMADEE from Sam McNeil, an Associated Press reporter who covers the Middle East and North Africa. Sam and I graduated together from the University of Arizona. He visited the AMADEE-18 crew earlier this month, and although I can't re-post his AP work, I can link to it! First, here's the written story and a very nice photo gallery:
Here's a cool 360-degree video of the base camp and rovers:
And here's some B-roll:
#PictureOfTheDay An Analog Astronaut conducting an experiment called Water Explorer; it aims to find subsurface water. It's one of our junor researcher experiments. Photo: (c) OeWF (Florian Voggeneder, @voggeneder). https://t.co/mmpdhG6V1r #simulateMars #AMADEE18 pic.twitter.com/nwxktzlR9g— Austr. Space Forum (@oewf) February 11, 2018
EVAs (Exta-vehicular activities) are probably the most demanding activity we perform as analog astronauts. They require a good physical condition, but also knowing your experiments quite well and being able to solve problems quickly and effectively. #AMADEE18 @oewf pic.twitter.com/BX1iWTRO2W— Joao Lousada (@Astro_Joao) February 12, 2018