On May 5, hundreds of people are going to gather in Washington, D.C., for the third-annual Humans to Mars Summit. "There's never been so much support for sending humans to Mars," Chris Carberry of Explore Mars Inc. tells The Associated Press, noting that when he pitched the idea of sending people to Mars in the late 1990s, congressional staffers just rolled their eyes at him. Now, NASA wants to put people on Mars in the 2030s, and private space companies are striving to get there first.
But how do you prepare for life on Mars, especially if you don't have the financial means to train on the Moon or elsewhere in outer space? The private, nonprofit Mars Society runs a mock Mars base camp in the desert of southeast Utah. In the video below, AP talks with a group of six Belgian students, the 153rd group that has traveled to the Mars camp to simulate two weeks on the Red Planet.
"We're trying to write the book of field tactics for Mars explorers," Mars Society director Robert Zubrin tells AP. "We do not expect that the people in our crews will be the actual people that go to Mars." The 14-year-old camp includes the "habitat," a two-story structure where the would-be space explorers live and work, and the campers treat this corner of Utah as much like Mars as possible, from dried-food diet to never leaving the habitat without a helmet. Get a taste below. —Peter Weber