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Updated January 12th, 2024 at 19:48 IST

NASA announces crew with Indian-origin scientist for simulated Mars mission

NASA has chosen four members including Indian-origin scientist Abhishek Bhagat for the simulated Mars mission which will last 45 days.

Harsh Vardhan
nasa
Artist's impression of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft on Mars. | Image:SpaceX
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A crew of four members have been selected for the simulated Mars mission which will begin later this month, NASA announced. These four members are experts in their respective fields and they will spend 45 days in isolation at a specially designed Mars habitat. Among these members is an Indian-origin scientist Abhishek Bhagat who will assist his team mates - Kamak Ebadi, Susan Hilbig and Ariana Lutsic. Two others - Gregory Contreras and Carli Domenico - have been reserved as back up options for the mission.

Abhishek Bhagat, Susan Hilbig, Kamak Ebadi, and Ariana Lutsic (left to right). Image: NASA

 

About the simulated Mars mission

This mission will be carried out at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston starting January 26. Bhagat and his team mates will exit the facility on March 11 after facing conditions astronauts will on Mars. The HERA facility spans 650-square-feet and is designed to simulate conditions for isolation, confinement and remote conditions. 

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During the 45-day mission, the crew will conduct experiments along with operational and maintenance tasks while facing communication delays with the outside world lasting up to five minutes as they “approach” Mars, says the mission description. 

The tasks in hand for the crew will be assessing the psychological, physiological, and behavioral impacts of the simulated Martian environment as part of the 18 human health studies. NASA says that ten studies in this mission are new and are being carried out in collaboration with the UAE's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre and the European Space Agency (ESA).

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Who is Abhishek Bhagat selected for the mission?

Abhishek Bhagat is a research electrical engineer for the U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center’s Cold Region Research and Engineering Lab. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Nagpur University, and two master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science.

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Having previously served in the U.S. Amy, Bhagat is currently pursuing a master’s degree in space systems from Melbourne's Florida Institute of Technology. According to NASA, he received the Army Commendation Medal and continues to be an Army reservist.

Bhagat has also served as an electronics engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after he was released from active duty.

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Among his team mates are Kamak Ebadi, a robotics technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Susan Hilbig, a physician assistant and Ariana Lutsic, an engineer specialising in research support for biological payloads on the International Space Station (ISS). 

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Published January 12th, 2024 at 19:48 IST

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