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Science
FRONTIERS
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Monday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
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Listen to 5 May
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Monday 5 May2008
Richard Hollingham exercising simulating no gravity strapped into a contraption and lying horizontally.
Richard Hollingham prepares for a space adventure

Mission to Mars

Space science has traditionally been one of Russia’s strongest scientific sectors. After the turmoil of the 1990s, when political and economic upheaval made it difficult for scientists to get adequate funding, a more confident Russia is now looking ahead to new space challenges.

In this week’s Frontiers, Richard Hollingham reports from the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. Drawing on their expertise in space endurance, scientists at the Institute are planning to simulate a mission to Mars.

Early next year, six cosmonauts will enter a simulated spacecraft and stay there for 500 days. Called Mars-500, scientists hope that the simulation will provide them with valuable psychological and physiological information about how a crew might withstand the rigours of such a long space flight.

Richard is given a guided tour of the simulation. He meets Sergey Ryazinskiy, a young Russian cosmonaut who hopes to be on that first manned mission to Mars.

He also meets Inessa Kozlovskaya, one of the world’s leading authorities on the physiological effects of weightlessness. Under Inessa’s watchful eye, Richard is strapped into a horizontal treadmill. Without regular load-bearing exercise in space, cosmonauts’ bodies are unable to withstand the stress of returning to Earth’s gravity after prolonged weightlessness.

Kevin Fong from University College London tells Richard more about the psychological pressures on astronauts taking part in endurance missions.

Richard also visits the Institute of Space Science in Moscow. He talks to Russian space scientist Anatoli Petrukovich about the dangers of prolonged exposure to cosmic rays. Two Italian space scientists, Livio Narici and Marco Casolino, both from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, assess the dangers of cosmic radiation and how best to protect astronauts from its worst effects.
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