520-day simulated mission to Mars underway in Russia

Last Thursday, a six person mission to Mars began in Russia -- except that the crew isn't going anywhere. The would-be astronauts (including Russian, French, Italian and Chinese members) have agreed to undergo a 520-day long simulation trip to Mars, which includes a 250-day flight to the planet, a 30-day exploration, and a 230-day return trip, all in the name of preparation and research. This is not the first time that Russia's undertaken long-term simulations -- last year six hopefuls participated in a 105-day long experiment -- hoping to gain insight into the long-term effects such isolation can be expected to produce. They won't be weightless, but many of the other conditions will be as realistic as possible -- including communications time delays, wonky internet, and one shower every ten days. Sounds a lot like blogging to us. We wish them luck -- check out the video below.