Zahra Khan and Phillip Cunio wanted to know what it's like to live on Mars. So the two MIT aeronautics students took their spacesuits and freeze-dried food and headed to the Mars Society Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah, and checked themselves into a facility designed to simulate life on the red planet. They joined six others in the two-week mission, the 6th such experiment to be conducted since December.

Humans won't be arriving on Mars until at least 2030 (probably later), but researchers figure you can get a head start on the scientific, logistical, mechanical, and psychological aspects of a real Mars mission through simulation. Sounds cool, right? But Khan and Cunio's lives are greatly inconvenienced on fake Mars. For example, they have to gear up and pass through airlocks every time they leave the room—and when they send e-mail, it's designed to take 20 minutes for it to arrive in the recipient's inbox. (20 minutes = how long it takes radio waves to travel roundtrip between Mars and Earth.)

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Khan plans to live on another planet one day ("I'm an advocate of one-way trips to Mars") and Cunio has a blog detailing his life in outer space.

Mars Desert Research Society main page