The Negev desert in southern Israel can be a harsh and desolate place - not much different than what space explorers might find on the planet Mars. So, as The Times of Israel's Joshua Davidovich tells us, Israeli scientists are using the Negev to simulate life on the Red Planet in order to conduct experiments necessary for any future missions there:
Deep in a forbidding, cratered and rock-strewn wilderness, six Israeli pioneers tried their hand this month at life on Mars.
On Sunday, they took off their helmets and sucked in the highly breathable air of Israel’s Negev desert, where they had spent the last four days simulating a mission to the Red Planet.
The mission was the first of several planned “expeditions” to Mars, held in the D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station) facility near the town of Mitzpeh Ramon, in the rugged Ramon crater.
The experiment, one of several analog Mars missions around the world, was meant to help plan for a future manned mission to the Red Planet as well as boost Israel’s mostly nascent space program, which currently consists of tech know-how, a number of satellites, and a lot of dreams.
The initiative is funded by the Israeli Space Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.
“D-Mars is half about the research, and the other half is about the outreach. A major part of this project is getting public interest and getting students interested in space,” participant Guy Ron told the Reuters news agency...